Lorenzana elated PAF got Blackhawk choppers
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the cancellation to get Bell 412 helicopters from Canada was a "blessing in disguise" as he led the formal acceptance, turnover and blessing ceremony for the six S70i Blackhawk Combat Utility Helicopters in Pampanga on Thursday.
In his speech, Lorenzana expressed how frustrated he was when the contract for the purchase of Bell 412 helicopters was cancelled in 2018.
"I was really very unhappy, that it came when it was due to be implemented was doubly frustrating. The cancellation of that contract brought us back to square one. We have to start with the procurement process again and we were racing against time before we lose the money to other projects," he said in his speech during the ceremony in Clark Airbase.
"Today I feel the exact opposite. I'm so happy and proud to have with our possession six of the 16 units of S70i Blackhawk helicopters we ordered from PZL of Poland. The remaining 10 Blackhawks will be delivered early next year. All helicopters will come with the initial integrated logistics support package," Lorenzana said.
"That the Bell 412 was cancelled was a blessing in disguise. We got a better deal with these aircraft. Not only is it the Blackhawk, more powerful. There is more payload, has longer range but we also got them at the price with the Bell 412 which is a cheaper aircraft," he added.
Lorenzana emphasized how fast the helicopters were delivered.
"They are also being delivered ahead of time. For this acquisition the procurement process proceeded very fast and smooth as well. I signed the contract in March 2019 or 20 months ago and now our pilots are ready to fly them here, these six helicopters," he said.
Lorenzana also expressed the possibility of getting more Blackhawk helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
"Let me congratulate the Philippine Air Force for adding another big ticket item in our modernization program. The Air Force commander, Gen.(Allen) Paredes has intimated to me that the Air Force want another 16 units of these Blackhawk. The chances of that being fulfilled if very big actually, so we'll see", he said.
"Actually, we have some, still funds remaining to procure helicopters in other companies. He (Paredes) said it is much better to acquire the same type... so that the fleet will be easier to maintain if all of them are Blackhawk," he added.
Lorenzana said"these brand new combat utility helicopters will be used for missions such as transport of cargoes and personnel, medical evacuation, casualty evacuation, aerial reconnaissance, disaster relief operations, troop insertion and extrication, combat resupply, combat search and rescue and limited close air support".
"These aircraft would greatly help the armed forces operational readiness. Equipped with the Blackhawk, our Air Force can now provide prompt and sustained day and night tactical lift as well as combat and non combat search and rescue operations,"
"We are not only leaving a legacy but more importantly ensuring the protection and welfare of our people," he said. Robina Asido/DMS