MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has formally accepted five S-70i "Black Hawk" combat utility helicopters and four units of ScanEagle unmanned aerial system (UAS).
Lorenzana and Philippine Air Force (PAF) chief, Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, led the acceptance and blessing of these equipment in a short ceremony Wednesday at the Clark Air Base, Pampanga.
In a statement Thursday, Lorenzana said these additional assets are seen as “crucial in keeping our communities and people safe from traditional security threats and disasters".
“With additional four long-endurance, low-altitude ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles, our aerial reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities will be enhanced. With five more Black Hawks, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) can now better provide prompt and sustained day and night tactical heli-lift and combat and non-combat search and rescue operations,” he added.
The PAF has an order of 16 S-70i helicopters from Polish company Polskie Zaklady Lotnicze Sp.z.o.o. worth USD241 million (about PHP11.5 billion).
The first six were delivered in November 2020 while the second batch of five was delivered this June.
One unit from the initial six units delivered in the country crashed last June 24 while on a night-flying exercise.
The latest S-70i helicopters turned over to the PAF on Wednesday are the third and last batch which was delivered well ahead of its delivery schedule originally set before the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the four ScanEagle UAS turned over by the US military are worth PHP200 million.
These platforms will provide additional capabilities in unmanned intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and in support of counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.
Meanwhile, 10 UH-ID helicopters, which were acquired in 2013 to 2014, were also decommissioned.
PAF spokesperson, Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano, said UH-ID were retired as these have already served their purpose.
These helicopters were acquired from the US-based Rice Aircraft Services Inc. from 2013 to 2014 as an interim solution for the PAF's relief transport requirement. (PNA)