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​Manila nears formal commitment for 16 S-70is

Manila is on the verge of placing an order for 16 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters equipped for combat utility missions.

The final elements of the deal are being put in place, according a source familiar with the transaction.

The rotorcraft will be acquired on a direct commercial sale basis, and be produced at Sikorsky’s PZL Mielec unit in Poland

The Black Hawk saw off three rivals for the requirement, the Leonardo AW139, Korea Aerospace Industries Surion, and Mil Mi-171.

Manila had previously decided to fill the air force requirement for transport helicopters with 16 Bell 412EPIs.

Unveiled at the 2018 Singapore air show on 6 February, the 16-unit commitment for the nation's air force was axed just seven days later on the orders of president Rodrigo Duterte.

Bell assembles the 412EPI at its plant in Mirabel, Canada and had faced criticism over the sale due to alleged human rights violations by Manilla, triggering the cancellation.

The Philippines is also interested in obtaining the Turkish Aerospace Industries T129 attack helicopter. In December, Philippine defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the nation is would likely acquire “less than 10” examples of the T129.

The potential Philippine order of Poland-produced S-70is follows news on 25 January that Warsaw will obtain four S-70is from PZL Mielec.

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