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PAF Black Hawk crashes in Tarlac

Aviation Updates Philippines – A Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk of the Philippine Air Force figured in a mishap last night, the PAF said in a statement today.

Secretary of the Department of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana later confirmed in his statement that three pilots and three airmen were involved in the crash.

The Black Hawk, part of the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing, was on a night flight training on Wednesday, a few miles from Colonel Ernesto Rabina Air Base in Capas, Tarlac.

Its reported late arrival to its station at Clark Air Base prompted the search.

"Night flight proficiency trainings are part of the capabilities of the pilots and crew, in this case the Blackhawk S70i, prior to their full deployment to assist our frontline units in their missions. Although with inherent risks, this competency is vital and necessary for the transport and logistics requirements of Unified Commands," the statement reads.

As of posting, no survivors have been found, according to the PAF. The identities of those who figured in the crash will be provided as soon as the members of the families would be notified.

"We grieve for the loss. The PAF will conduct a thorough inquiry to determine the circumstances of this unfortunate incident."

The air force said that all Black Hawks in its fleet would be grounded pending the investigation.

Meanwhile, Lorenzana released the following statement this afternoon: "We at the Department of National Defense extend our deepest sympathies to the three pilots and three airmen of an S-70i Blackhawk helicopter of the Philippine Air Force who perished when their plane crashed in the vicinity of Crow Valley near Clark Air Base, Pampanga, after undertaking a night proficiency flight on Wednesday evening, June 3."

"In the meantime, the entire Blackhawk fleet are grounded while the incident is being investigated," Lorenzana added.

The S-70i Black Hawk involved was part of the first batch of deliveries composed of six units of the helicopter model. The first six were delivered on November 10, 2020. Another batch consisting of five units arrived two weeks ago at Clark Air Base.

In 2019, PAF ordered 16 Black Hawk helicopters valuing Php 11.5 billion through a government-to-government deal with Poland. The air force has six operational units, while the newer five are yet to be formally received.

The procurement of the choppers is part of the Combat Utility Helicopter Acquisition Project under Horizon 2 of the AFP's modernization program. PAF highlighted the acquisition of the new helicopters to replace the old Huey aircraft currently operational.

Photo from Armed Forces of the Philippines

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