‘Unforgiving terrain’ giving PAF tough time in retrieving Black Hawk wreckage
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Air Force on Friday (June 25) said it was having a difficult time retrieving the wreckage of one of its helicopters that crashed in Tarlac province and killed three officers and three enlisted men.
“As of this writing the recovery and retrieval operation is still ongoing,” said PAF Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano.
“The topography of the site presented a big challenge for the recovery teams and security teams,” Mariano said.
One of the PAF’s new Sikorsky S-170 Black Hawk helicopters crashed near Sitio Binyanan at the village of O’ Donnel, in Capas, Tarlac while on a night proficiency training flight on Wednesday (June 23) night.
The helicopter failed to return at its estimated time of arrival at Clark Air Base, Pampanga province, prompting a search. No survivors had been found.
The retrieval operations were suspended late Thursday (June 24) due to bad weather and resumed early Friday.
“The uneven and unforgiving terrain coupled with the unpredictable local weather in the area contributed to difficulty of the retrieval operations,” Mariano said.
PAF chief Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes went to Clark Air Base on Thursday to personally oversee the ongoing retrieval operations.
Mariano said the PAF has coordinated with PZL Mielec and Lockheed Martin Global Inc., the manufacturer of the helicopter, for technical assistance and investigation of the “accident.”
The families of the fallen airmen were already informed of the crash and were assured of all support and assistance.
The Philippine government earlier procured 16 units of Black Hawk helicopters for P12.1 billion to replace the aging Vietnam-era Hueys mainly used for transport tasks.
The first six units were commissioned in late 2020. Five more units were delivered early this month, but these have yet to be accepted by the PAF.
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