PAF to continue search for missing aircraftBy Dona Z. Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will not call off the search for the wreckage of the SF-260 plane that crashed off Mariveles, Bataan Friday morning.
The PAF chief, Lieutenant General Lauro Dela Cruz, said that as of Tuesday, they were still hoping to find signs of what happened to the two military pilots on board the aircraft.
“We’re not calling it off,” he told reporters during the anniversary of the Philippine Navy on Tuesday.
“It’s really important that we find the aircraft, more so if we can retrieve it so that at least we can find out what could have been the cause [of the crash]. As of now it’s all speculation,” Dela Cruz added.
Five days of relentless search operations with the Philippine Navy in the waters off Cavite and Bataan have not yielded new finds except for the few debris that were recovered shortly after the crash.
Dela Cruz said they have been hampered by their lack of sonar equipment to detect submerged objects.
During the weekend, the PAF contracted the services of a seabed mapping ship to map the possible wreck site.
Dela Cruz said they have been waiting for the next availability of the ship.
“It’s really like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack. We’re really praying. We’re just after finding them,” he said.
He corrected previous reports, which described the ill-fated SF-260 as a trainer plane.
He said their SF-260 Turbo Prop model planes have been converted as light attack aircraft under the PAF’s 15th Strike Wing.
The 18 brand-new SF-260 FH are the ones used to train military pilots, according to Dela Cruz.
The PAF has grounded its remaining seven SF-260 TP aircraft since the crash.