Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – The Philippine government bought up 32 units of new Black Hawk helicopters worth US$ 620 million or around Rp. 8.99 trillion assuming an exchange rate of Rp. 14,500 per US$. Thus, the price per unit of the military helicopter is US$ 19.37 million or around Rp 280.86 billion.
Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana said the purchase of the helicopter was to enhance the capabilities of the Philippine air force, especially to replace the aging helicopter fleet.
As is well known, over the last few decades, Manila has sought to modernize its dilapidated military equipment featuring Vietnam War era helicopters and World War II naval vessels used by the United States.
The first of 32 S-70i Black Hawks from a Polish company owned by US defense manufacturer Lockheed Martin will start arriving next year, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Facebook.
The planes were needed for humanitarian aid and disaster response, he said.
“The shortage of transport planes and helicopters has never been more acute during the pandemic and after Hurricane Odette. This is exacerbated by our aging Huey which has become uneconomical to maintain,” Lorenzana said.
The government last year completed an order for 16 S-70i Black Hawks to replace the air force’s fleet of Bell UH-1H helicopters, commonly known as Hueys, after the fatal crash.
Many of them were obtained as surplus from the United States, a longtime military ally of Manila.
The entire Black Hawk fleet was grounded in June after an S-70i helicopter crashed during a night training flight, killing all six people on board. Investigations found it accidentally entered a storm and the pilot suffered from spatial disorientation or vertigo.
Lorenzana also announced that the Philippines would buy an anti-ship missile system from India for nearly $375 million which would increase its defense capabilities.
It comes weeks after the country ordered two new warships from South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries in a $556 million deal.