Chile became the seventh purchaser of the S-70i Black Hawk helicopters, manufactured at the Polish PZL Mielec facility. According to the Spanish-language media, the contract value may be as high as USD 180 million. As the earlier announcement had suggested, the Chilean Air Force is not ruling out a situation, in which more helicopters from Mielec could be acquired later.
Six S-70iTM Black Hawk helicopters constituted the subject of the agreement. PZL Mielec facility is going to manufacture and deliver the new helicopters for the Chilean military. Once the deliveries start, beginning in 2018, the Chilean Black Hawks will be tasked with military and humanitarian missions, including troop transport, search and rescue, and natural disaster support sorties. The Mielec helicopters will support the operations undertaken by the Chile’s Bell 412 and Bell UH-1H airframes.
When it comes to deployments at long distances, Black Hawk is suited to be carried with the use of the C-130 Hercules airlifters, also used by the Chilean Air Force.
The tender, the goal of which was to select the new helicopters, has been announced back in 2015. The Chilean authorities, within the scope of the said tender, received aircraft such as: Leonardo Helicopters AW-149 (former AgustaWestland company), Airbus Helicopters H-215M Cougar or Korean Aerospace Industries Surion.
The talks with the Polish government are in process, as the authorities are hoping to acquire the armed Black Hawk support helicopters for the Special Operations component. PZL Mielec hopes that selection of the Black Hawk helicopters made by the Polish MoD would act as a catalyst, which would pave the way towards more orders, placed by the neighbouring Central and Eastern European countries. Up until now, 39 Black Hawks were manufactured at Mielec and delivered to customers from the Middle East, Latin America, or Asia.