The Air Force has grounded all its 12 OV-10 Bronco bomber planes after one crashed in Zamboanga City, and ordered a quick investigation on the incident.

Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena’s order to ground the OV-10 fleet took effect 4 p.m. Wednesday, hours after OV-10 No. 801 crash-landed at the Edwin Andrews Air Base, PAF spokesman Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said.

Rabena also ordered the aircraft accident investigation board to fast-track its probe on the incident so the OV-10s, one of the military’s “high value” air assets, can fly again.

“It (OV-10) is a very useful air asset at the moment… the commanding general gave specific instructions to fast-track the investigation,” Okol said.

Recently, OV-10s were used to drop bombs on the lair of “lawless elements” and Abu Sayyaf members in Zamboanga Sibugay and Sulu before ground troops charged in.

They were also used to respond to a distress call by an oil exploration vessel harrassed by foreign ships in the West Philippine Sea and aid foot soldiers fighting communist rebels in Tineg, Abra.

The investigation, being carried out by a senior pilot, experienced pilot, maintenance officer, as well as officers from the Air Force’s legal and medical services, is currently focusing on what may have happened to OV-10 No. 801’s engine, Okol said.

“We’re focusing on the engine, kasi yun ang ni-report na hindi nag-start,” he said.

Okol, meanwhile, said the grounding of the remaining OV-10s would not have a big effect on the Air Force’s operations.

“We still have other air combat assets like the MG52 attack helicopters, SF260TP (plane) and the AS211 (jet),” the Air Force spokesman said. (John Roson)

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