MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the acquisition of 15 Black Hawk helicopters for the Philippine Air Force, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced Thursday.

Nograles during a virtual briefing said the move forms “part of plans to slowly address the growing heli-lift deficiency of our armed forces and [to] decommission all Huey helicopters.”

According to its manufacturer, the Sikorsky Black Hawk is a multirole helicopter utilized by the US military and the armed forces of 28 other nations.

Its functions include internal and external lift, combat assault, medical evacuation, aerial firefighting, search and rescue, special operations and VIP transport. It can also be armed.

During a camp visit in Jolo, Sulu last January 22, Duterte said he wanted all Huey helicopters in the PAF’s inventory to be decommissioned owing to their frequent involvement in fatal crash landings. Earlier that week, a PAF Huey helicopter crashed on the mountains of Bukidnon province, killing five military personnel and two members of the local militia.

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