|Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government will procure additional 32 brand new S-70i Blackhawk Helicopters.(Photo by Secretary Delfin Lorenzana via Philippine Air Force)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] MANILA: The Philippines will buy 32 new Black Hawk helicopters for more than $620 million, the defense secretary said Sunday, in the nation's latest big-ticket purchase to upgrade its aging military capability. For the past decade, Manila has been trying to modernize its run-down military equipment featuring Vietnam War-era helicopters and World War II naval vessels used by the United States, PhilStar reported.
The first of the 32 S-70i Black Hawks from a Polish firm owned by US defense manufacturer Lockheed Martin will begin to arrive next year, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Facebook. The aircraft was needed for humanitarian assistance and disaster response, he said. "The lack of transport planes and helicopters have never been more acute during the pandemic and in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette," Lorenzana said, using the local name of Typhoon Rai, which left more than 400 people dead and caused widespread devastation when it hit the country in December. "This was exacerbated by our aging Hueys that have become uneconomical to maintain."
The government last year completed an order of 16 S-70i Black Hawks to replace the air force's fleet of Bell UH-1H helicopters, commonly known as the Huey, after fatal accidents. Many of them were acquired as surplus from the United States, Manila's longtime military ally.