Philippines receives first batch of S-70i Black Hawks

The first five of 16 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk utility helicopters were handed over to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) at Clark Air Base near Angeles City, Luzon Island, on November 9.

Delivery of the first batch of S-70i Black Hawks – which were manufactured by PZL-Mielec, a Poland-based Lockheed Martin subsidiary – was announced by the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) on November 10. The five helicopters arrived at Clark Air Base aboard a chartered Antonov An-124 Ruslan heavy-lift strategic transport.

Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk [Lockheed Martin]
In total, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) will receive 16 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawks by the end of 2021. These aircraft are being manufactured by PZL Mielec in Poland, under license from Lockheed Martin subsidiary, Sikorsky. Lockheed Martin

As the An-124 could only accommodate five examples of the rotorcraft, a sixth example has been shipped to the Philippines and is expected to arrive in Manilla next month. The remaining ten Black Hawks are scheduled to be delivered to the PAF within the first quarter of 2021.

In a press release (dated November 10, 2020), the DND said: “The [Black Hawks] will greatly boost the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ capability to conduct various operations, including combat missions, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, and [will] help in the government’s efforts against COVID-19.”

This delivery comes as part of a US$241.4m deal, which was signed between the DND and PZL Mielec in 2019. The decision to procure the S-70i came after the DND terminated a prior contract to acquire 16 Bell 412EPI utility helicopters, which are manufactured in Mirabel, Canada. This prior order was cancelled following Canadian concerns regarding alleged human rights violations by the Philippines.

The Philippine DND released a trio of images of some of the PAF's new S-70i Black Hawks at Clark Air Base following their delivery. You can check them out in the gallery below: