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Duterte: I will buy more Black Hawks

February 13, 2021 - Saturday 1:02 PM by Jose Ronald F. Siongco

Article Banner Image President Rodrigo Roa Duterte poses with Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Philippine Air Force (PAF) Chief Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana during the inspection of the newly delivered air assets for the PAF at the Haribon Hangar in Clark Air Base, Pampanga on February 12, 2021. RICHARD MADELO/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Friday vowed to add more modern S70i Black Hawk helicopters to replace the aging Vietnam War-era UH-1H Hueys of the Philippine Air Force to better equip them in protecting the nation efficiently and safely. 

Early this month, Duterte ordered the decommissioning of all Hueys following the January 16, 2021 crash in Bukidnon that killed all seven on board.

“Alam mo, atin-atin lang eto, but we know deep in our hearts that everytime old helicopter flies, medyo may kaba tayo that it can falter on its own. With nobody’s intervention,” he said during the inspection of newly delivered air assets at Clark Air Base in Pampanga.

He added, “nire-repair nga pero matagal na talaga, e. Old, metal fatigue and the constant re-boring sa pag-repair. It would take its toll on the helicopter itself.”

Duterte admitted it deeply pains him to see a casualty or wounded member of the AFP due to incidents involving the aging choppers every time he reads “my briefer”.

“It grieves me deeply to realize we can improve on this in terms of fighting capability and air worthiness,” he shared.

“Kailangan na talaga mapalitan na eto,” he stressed. “It has come to age for retirement. Hindi na talaga pwede.” 

Though the Defense Department has a “pending order of 32” Black Hawks, Duterte said he could buy five to six units “before I go” considering the health and economic challenges the country is currently facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I cannot give you the entire 32. It will be spread along a number of years,” he remarked. “Maghanap ako. Ang ganda-ganda ng Black Hawk, e.”

During the event, the Commander-in-Chief inspected PAF’s newly delivered air assets displayed at the Haribon Hangar which included one unit of C-130H, six units of S70i Blackhawk Utility Helicopters, six units of A-29B Super Tucanos, six units of Hermes 900 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and four units of Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. JOSE RONALD F. SIONGCO/MDM