The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has grounded all of its newly-acquired S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters after one of them crashed during a night-flying exercise in Tarlac on Wednesday.
"Last night, June 23, 2021 an S-70i Black Hawk Utility helicopter of the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing on a night flight training figured in a mishap a few miles from Colonel Ernesto Rabina Air Base in Capas, Tarlac," said PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano in a statement.
The helicopter took off from Clark Air Base at around 8 p.m. for the exercise area and that PAF personnel got worried when there was still no contact with the helicopter and its crew at around 10 p.m.
He added the PAF will conduct a thorough inquiry to determine the circumstances of the incident.
"For the meantime, all the other Black Hawks will not be flown until the conclusion of the investigation," Mariano said.
The Black Hawks are part of the 16-unit aircraft acquired by the PAF from Polish company Polskie Zaklady Lotnicze Sp.z.o.o which were manufactured by Sikorsky USA. The contract valued $241.46 million was inked in 2019. Manila presently has 11 S-70i helicopters. Poland delivered five new aircraft to the PAF as recently as in the first week of June. Two more batches of these aircraft will be handed over to the Air Force by the end of 2021.
The S-70i multi-role helicopter is capable of lifting 15 people, including four crew members, to up to 13,000 feet with a cruising speed of 276kmph. It can reach speeds of 361kmph and has a range of 460km.