The Department of National Defense (DND) plans to decommission all of the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) workhorse which are the Vietnam war-era Huey helicopters and replace them with more reliable aircraft.
The DND expressed its sincerest gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte after he approved the refleeting.
President Duterte in a speech during a camp visit in Camp Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu, on Friday told soldiers he wanted to procure at least six or seven new helicopters for the Air Force.
DND spokesperson Director Arsenio Andolong added that the Chief Executive wanted a complete decommissioning of all Huey helicopters in the PAF’s inventory because of their frequent involvement in fatal crashes.
More muscle for PAF
Andolong said late last year the PAF received six of 16 Polish-made Sikorsky S70i Blackhawk to the PAF’s inventory, ordered in 2019. The remaining 10 units are expected to be delivered within this year.
“Late last year the PAF received 6 Blackhawks, part of the 16 we bought two years ago. The 10 remaining Blackhawks will be delivered this year,” Andolong said.
“Following the crash in Bukidnon recently that killed all on board, all Hueys are grounded for technical inspections,” he added.
The DND earlier said the brand-new Black Hawk helicopters, manufactured by PZL Mielec, a Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky company in Poland, will provide PAF with sustained day-and-night tactical lift, transport, and search-and-rescue capabilities.
The helicopters are being procured by the government under a $241.5 million government-to-government contract to meet the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program.
During his speech in Jolo, Duterte said it is saddening to hear soldiers losing their lives while doing their duties.
Seven members of the security forces were killed in an air accident involving a Huey chopper in Bukidnon more than a week ago.
Late last year, the PAF received six of 16 Polish-made Sikorsky S70i Blackhawk to the PAF’s inventory, ordered in 2019. The remaining 10 units are expected to be delivered within this year.
The UH-1H and UH-1D models, or Hueys, are Vietnam War-era helicopters that have been refurbished to serve as the PAF’s main workhorses.
It was reported that the Bukidnon incident was the fourth Air Force rotorcraft to go down in six months, three involving Huey helicopters.