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Philippines receives its first S-70i helicopters

The Philippines National Department of Defense received the first five of 16 Polish-made S-70i helicopters this week. Photo courtesy of DND/Philippine News Agency
The Philippines National Department of Defense received the first five of 16 Polish-made S-70i helicopters this week. Photo courtesy of DND/Philippine News Agency

Nov. 11 (UPI) -- The first five of 16 Sikorsky S-70i helicopters purchased by the Philippine Defense Ministry arrived in Manila, the government's news agency there reported.

A sixth helicopter did not fit on the Russian-made Antonov-124 cargo plane and will arrive by ship in December, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

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The plane arrived at Clark Air Base, near Manila, on Monday.

The aircraft were manufactured in Poland by PZL Mielec under license by Sikorsky USA, a Lockheed Martin subsidiary. The plant employs 1,700 people and also manufactures components of the F-35 stealth fighter and HIMARS, Javelin and PAC-3 MSE missiles, a Lockheed Martin statement said.

The helicopters, in use by nine countries but the Philippines' first of the S-70 series, were purchased in a 2019 government-to-government deal between Poland and the Philippines, totaling $241.4 million.

The 10 remaining aircraft in the contract are expected to be delivered in early 2021.

The Sikorsky S-70, in service since the 1970s, is designated by the U.S. military as the Black Hawk, and is regarded as a medium-lift transport and utility helicopter. The "i" variant is the Polish-made version.

The new helicopters of the Philippines Defense Ministry will be used in combat missions, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, and help in the government's efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic, government spokesman Arsenio Andolong said.

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