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Philippines orders 15 Black Hawk helicopters after fatal crashes

By Fatima Sule [NAN]

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the purchase of an additional 15 Black Hawk helicopters to replace another model in the wake of a series of deadly crashes.

The order is in line with Duterte’s instructions to decommission all Huey helicopters after a UH-1H chopper crashed in January, killing seven, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Thursday.

“The president has approved the acquisition of 15 Black Hawk helicopters as part of plans to slowly address the growing heli-lift deficiency of our armed forces and decommission all Huey helicopters,” he said.

Last month’s fatal crash in the southern province of Bukidnon was the fourth involving the Huey model since July 2020.

Duterte “wants to end all these tragic deaths,” Nograles said.

The Philippines already has 16 Black Hawk S-70i combat utility helicopters on order from Polish company PZL Mielec at a cost of about 11 billion pesos (229 million dollars).

Six of the units were delivered from November to December 2021, and the remaining choppers were expected to be delivered this year.

However, Nograles said the country needed at least 76 helicopters to cover its more than 7,000 islands and 300,000 square kilometres of land area.

Duterte had only approved the purchase of another 15 due to budget constraints, he said. (dpa/NAN)

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