In an effort to beef up the assets employed by the Philippine Army’s Aviation Regiment, Lt Gen Romeo Brawner Jr – commander of the Philippine Army – has recently told reporters that he wants to acquire more Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk battlefield utility helicopters, along with an undisclosed multi-role fixed-wing aircraft, to strengthen the fleet.
Speaking about this goal to reporters during the ceremonial handover of a Bo-105 utility helicopter – which was donated to the Philippine Army’s Aviation Regiment by Dornier Technologies Inc – at the Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija on October 26, Brawner Jr outlined that a Black Hawk acquisition was a top priority for the service. Along with the planned procurement of a multi-role fixed-wing aircraft, the Black Hawks would be used to support airborne training and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) operations.
However, any such purchase may not occur for a while, as the Philippine Army’s request for funding to acquire more aircraft in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 was not approved by the Philippine government. Commenting on this to local reports, Brawner Jr said: “Unfortunately, it was not approved by Congress so what we are going to do is to include the purchase of the aircraft for the Philippine Army under our modernisation programme.”
The Black Hawk is no stranger to Philippine military service, with two S-70A-5 Black Hawk helicopters being delivered to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in 1984. Operated by the service’s 252nd Helicopter Squadron at Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base, just one example remains operational after one was lost to attrition on May 2, 1992. In November 2020, the first of 16 S-70i Black Hawks were delivered to the PAF – all of which have since been delivered. One S-70i was lost during a crash while conducting a training exercise on June 23, 2021, killing all six on board. On February 22, 2022, a follow on contract was signed for the acquisition of 32 more S-70i Black Hawks.