A newly delivered Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk multi-role helicopter operated by the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) flew at the distance from Colonel Ernesto Rabina Talakkapas on June 23. Lost during a night training flight of several kilometers at the air base.
The department stated in a statement on June 24 that the incident prompted PAF to suspend operations of its new helicopter until the investigation was completed, although it did not specify whether the Polish-made helicopter crashed or was still missing.
“So far, no survivors have been found,” the Pakistan Air Force said, noting that there were earlier reports that the helicopter was later than expected to return to Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga.
“Night flight proficiency training is part of the pilot’s and crew’s capabilities, in this case the Black Hawk S70i, before they are fully deployed to assist our frontline forces in their missions,” the service added. “Despite the inherent risks, this capability is vital and essential to the unified command’s transportation and logistics requirements.”
Manila ordered 16 new multi-purpose Black Hawk S-70i helicopters, valued at approximately US$240 million, manufactured in Poland by Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky subsidiary PZL Mielec, to meet the requirements of the Pakistan Armed Forces under the revised “Horizon 2” PAF combat utility helicopter (CUH) requirements. Philippine Modernization Program (RAFPMP)
After delivering six helicopters in early December 2020, the latest batch of five helicopters arrived at Clark Air Force Base on June 7 on the Antonov An-124 strategic transport aircraft.
The remaining five helicopters are expected to be delivered by the end of the year. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana stated on June 9 that the final delivery is scheduled for September.
In February, the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, approved the purchase of at least 15 Black Hawks for PAF in order to retire the aircraft after a series of fatal accidents (including one on January 16). Service aging Bell UH-1 Huey utility helicopter. Seven people died.
It has not yet announced which Black Hawk model to purchase for PAF, but it is expected that Manila will seek more follow-up orders for the S-70.