PAF’s Black Hawk chopper crashes in Tarlac, no survivors found
MANILA, Philippines — No survivors have been found after one of the Philippine Air Force’s Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters crashed during a night flight training in the vicinity of Capas, Tarlac on Wednesday night.
Col. Renante Cabico, Tarlac police director, said the 790th Air Base Group based in Barangay Sta. Juliana, Capas, informed the Tarlac police about the incident at 6:10 am on Thursday.
He said the PAF helicopter crashed in Sitio Manabayukan in Barangay Patling.
The chopper failed to return at its expected time at Clark Air Base, Pampanga, prompting an eventual search, said PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano in a statement.
He didn’t immediately say how many were on board but search, retrieval and recovery operations are ongoing.
“Their identities will be provided as soon as the members of their families were properly notified…We grieve for the loss,” he said.
The PAF vowed to conduct a thorough investigation.
The rest of the Black Hawk units will be grounded until the conclusion of the investigation.
Night flight proficiency trainings are undertaken by pilots and crew to enhance their capabilities.
“Although with inherent risks, this competency is vital and necessary for the transport and logistics requirements of Unified Commands,” Mariano said.
The S-70i Black Hawk helicopters, the newest aircraft of the PAF, were built by Poland’s PZL Mielec. The Philippine government earlier procured 16 units for P12.1 billion.
The first six units were commissioned in late 2020, which marked the transition from the PAF’s aging Hueys. Five more units were delivered early this month.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier approved the acquisition of more helicopters following a series of accidents involving Hueys since 2020, killing at least 12 people in separate incidents.
Transport helicopters are crucial in Philippine military operations.
They are primarily used in ferrying troops and cargo, medical evacuation, resupply, search and rescue, limited close air support, and for disaster relief.
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