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The Philippines

Philippine Air Force to buy 16 Black Hawk helicopters because they’re not made in the US but Poland

  • The Black Hawk helicopters are made by US manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft, but produced in a factory in Poland
  • Duterte vowed a boycott of US arms and equipment in 2017 after being told a planned purchase from Russia could trigger US sanctions
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 January, 2019, 9:25pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 January, 2019, 9:52pm

The Philippines will buy 16 Black Hawk helicopters made by United States manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft, said the nation’s defence chief on Thursday, despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s vow not to purchase arms of equipment from the US.

Defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Air Force had evaluated several options – the S-70 Black Hawk made by Sikorsky Aircraft, the Russian-made Mi-171, the South Korean-made Surion, and the AW139 made by AgustaWestland from the UK.

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“When they finished the evaluation, [Sikorsky] came out on top,” revealed Lorenzana on the sidelines of a foreign correspondents’ forum in Manila. “They wanted the Black Hawk.”

Duterte was informed that the Air Force’s decision could be “in violation” of his pronouncement, but the president gave the green light, said Lorenzana.

“I said ... this aircraft is coming from Poland. There is a factory in Poland making Black Hawk under Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky. Maybe this is an exception. He said, whatever the end users want, we’ll buy it.”

The purchase will replace a previous deal for 16 Bell 412 helicopters from Canada. It was angrily scrapped by Duterte a year ago after the Canadian government said it would block the sale if the helicopters could be used to commit human rights abuses.

Duterte had also vowed not buy from the US after he was told that his planned purchase of arms from Russia could trigger sanctions from the US due to a law signed by President Donald Trump in 2017.

The 70-page law, called “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act”, or CAATSA, imposed sanctions on the Russian Federation, Iran, North Korea and those who would buy military hardware from them.