CRASHED UH-1D CHOPPER BLOWN UP
GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The Philippine military has blew up an air force UH-1D helicopter that crashed in the southern province of Sarangani despite ongoing investigations into the ill-fated aircraft.
Col. Enrico Canaya, a spokesman for the Philippine Air Force, said the chopper was destroyed to prevent rebel groups from getting access to the downed UH-1D. The refurbished chopper crashed on November 7 in Matalam town while transporting soldiers wounded in fighting with communist insurgents.
“We have to destroy it because it is a conflict area where rebel groups operate. It is a disposal procedure in all military equipment in conflict areas and we don’t have access to the area that why it was destroyed,” Canaya told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
He said all radio equipment and machine guns and other serviceable items were removed before the chopper was destroyed recently.
Nine soldiers, including two pilots and two gunnery sergeants were injured in the crash, according to the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command.
Officials there said the refurbished helicopter were evacuating 5 wounded soldiers – who clashed November 6 with the communist rebel group New People’s Army in the province – when the chopper crash landed due to strong winds.
“There were prevailing strong winds when the said helicopter was landing. The nine personnel -pilots, crew and soldiers – on-board the helicopter suffered slight injuries and were already secured,” army Captain Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command.
He said the chopper – part of 9 refurbished air force helicopters bought by the Philippines last year from Rice Aircraft Services Inc. – was totally wrecked. The chopper was under the control of the Philippine Air Force Tactical Operations Group XI of the 3rd Air Division.
Canaya said they are still waiting the formal reports of the investigation into the crash. He said the UH-1D choppers are reliable and being used by the air force in military campaign in the southern Philippines.
“They are reliable helicopters and we are using the aircrafts in Mindanao and other areas,” he said.
The decision to blow up the UH-1D chopper was similar to what U.S. commandos did to one of its helicopters during the assault on Osama Bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad in Pakistan in May 2, 2011 after it was damaged in a hard landing. The only difference was the U.S. Seal Team 6 chopper had stealth features similar to those used on advanced fighter jets while the UH-1D helicopters is nothing special.
U.S. Army Bell UH-1D helicopters airlift members of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment from the Filhol Rubber Plantation area to a new staging area, during Operation "Wahiawa", a search and destroy mission conducted by the 25th Infantry Division, northeast of Cu Chi, South Vietnam.