The S-70i Black Hawk choppers. | Photo courtesy of the AFP Modernization & News Update

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) said its six newly-commissioned S-70i Black Hawk choppers are ready to assist the Department of Health (DOH) in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to areas in the country that are hard to reach.

The multi-mission aircraft units acquired by the Philippines are part of 16 others ordered from Polish company Polskie Zaklady Lotnicze Sp.z.o.o. and manufactured under license from Sikorsky USA.

In a recent press statement, PAF said the Black Hawk choppers which are part of its modernization has boosted their capability to provide important assistance not only during anti-insurgence operations but whenever there are calamities.

It said the S-70i Black Hawks which were procured through a government-to-government negotiation will further ensure the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) mission performance in terms of providing assistance to the Filipino people, particularly now that there is a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic affecting everyone’s lives.

“These helicopters will also be the transport vehicles of the Department of Health (DOH) personnel in delivering the COVID-19 vaccines, other medical supplies, and relief goods to residents living in areas that are not easily accessible,” the PAF statement said.

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“Having these helicopters is a great help to the AFP for they have characteristics that can accelerate the delivery of services such as speed over long distances. It can access remote and mountainous areas and navigate great water expanses to evacuate severely ill or unstable patients who need immediate transport,” PAF added.

PAF said it will also enable the transportation of trained medical personnel with special instrumentation whenever such is required by certain situations.

The Black Hawk choppers have faster mobilization than fixed-wing craft as they just need smaller landing areas and can land near hospital vicinities.

“The restoration and maintenance of the said helicopters are vital to the government in doing its duties and responsibilities to the country and its citizens. These helicopters are not just a piece of transport equipment but a carrier of hope and endless service to the Filipino people,” PAF said.

In the past, the AFP relied upon its UH-1 helicopters to provide important assistance to the country during anti-insurgency operations and calamities. Now, the PAF said getting support from the Black Hawk choppers will boost their capability to fulfill their mission to further serve the Filipino people.

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