US-made Black Hawk helicopters. | Courtesy: LockheedMartinVideos Youtube account
MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday (December 7) said the Philippines will purchase 16 US-made Black Hawk helicopters from the Sikorsky Aircraft Corp for $240M (P12.67 billion).
It will be recalled that the Philippines called off its purchase deal of 16 Bell 412n helicopters with Canada after the Canadian government said the choppers can only be used for humanitarian missions and not for combat operations as intended by the Philippines.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza explained that the government preferred to drop its plans to buy helicopters from Russia due to US sanctions on Russian military exports.
“The Air Force technical working group have come up with the recommendation that the Blackhawk is the best option that they will buy, so we will be pursuing that,” he said.
The formal signing of the purchase deal is expected next year.
Lorenzana clarified, however, that the Black Hawk helicopters will be used solely to transport supply but not as attack helicopters.
‘It’s a combat utility and transport (unit). Pwede nating lagyan ng machine gun sa kabila (we could install a machine gun on the other side)but it’s not really for attack. It’s for bringing air supply,” he explained.
Aside from the Black Hawk, the government is also considering to purchase T129 ATAK from Turkish Aerospace Industries for the government’s attack helicopter project. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)