Tag Archive: helicopters


The Philippine Air Force grounded its UH-1H (Huey) helicopters after one unit got involved in an accident in Cagayan de Oro City on Wednesday.

The Huey unit carrying the number 518 “rolled over” while it was about to take off from Camp Evangelista, headquarters of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, around 3:30 p.m. Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Enrico Canaya said.

The helicopter has two pilots and two crew members at the time, but no one was reported injured, Canaya said in a text message.

He said the helicopter was damaged, though the extent is not immediately known.

The helicopter was supposed to return to the Air Force’s 10th Tactical Operations Group base at the Lumbia Airport after transporting 4th ID commander Major General Oscar Lactao from the 402nd Brigade headquarters in Butuan City, said Major Ezra Balagtey, Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command public affairs officer.

“UH-1Hs are grounded,” he said. (John Roson)

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Down. The Sokol military helicopter that crashed in Marawi City (photo from the Army 1st ID)

Down. The Sokol military helicopter that crashed in Marawi City (photo from the Army 1st ID)

Two people were injured when one of the military’s recently-acquired helicopters crashed in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, Thursday afternoon, authorities said.

The Air Force helicopter crashed around 2:30 p.m. shortly after taking off from the Army’s 103rd Brigade headquarters, Chief Superintendent Noel delos Reyes, director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police, said by phone.

It was carrying Army 4th Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, Col. Alexander Macario, some staff members, and crew members, Delos Reyes said.

“Okay naman si general Visaya, he survived the crash, saka si Col. Macario. Mukhang ‘yung gunner lang ang injured, napilayan, but everybody is safe,” he said.

(photo from DILG)

(photo from DILG)

Chief Superintendent Robert Kuinisala, deputy director of the ARMM police, said he was informed that a civilian child playing near the crash site in Kampo Ranao, Brgy. Saber, was also hurt.

“Isang crew ng helicopter ay namanhid ang paa at isang batang civilian ang may minor wound po. Naglalaro daw ‘yung bata sa baba,” Kuinisala said in a text message.

The ill-fated helicopter was escorting another military chopper carrying Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin and Interior Sec. Mar Roxas, and a civilian chopper carrying Energy Sec. Jericho Petilla.

“Nagpunta sila (secretaries) to look into the power situation in Lanao del Sur, they met with local government officials. Paalis na sila, papunta na sa Cagayan de Oro,” Delos Reyes said.

(photo from Army 1st ID)

(photo from Army 1st ID)

The secretaries’ helicopters, which took off earlier, went back to check on the crashed chopper, he said.

The aircraft that crashed bears the body number 921 and is a Sokol helicopter, Kuinisala said, adding that the chopper’s propeller was damaged.

Gazmin’s office confirmed in a statement that the ill-fated helicopter was one of the recently-acquired W3A Sokol choppers.

“An investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of this incident,” according to the statement.

One of the Sokol helicopters being delivered in November 2012 (Air Force photo)

One of the Sokol helicopters being delivered in November 2012 (Air Force photo)

The government bought eight brand new Sokol helicopters from the joint venture of Polish manufacturer PZL-Swidnik and British-Italian firm AugustaWestland for P2.8 billion.

The units arrived in batches in February 2012, November 2012, and February 2013.

The helicopters were supposed be used for combat support operations but were eventually assigned to the Air Force’s 505th Search and Rescue Group, after its side door and gun mount were found “unfit” for the military’s tactics.

They are now being used to conduct rescue operations in times of calamities and transporting VIPs.

The incident in Marawi was not the first time for the Sokol units to encounter problems.

In July 2013, another Sokol helicopter (tail no. 310925) was stuck for five days in Camp Aguinaldo after failing to take off due to an undisclosed mechanical problem.

That helicopter was supposed to escort the group of Gazmin to an Air Force event in Pampanga. (John Roson)

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A mayor running for provincial board member of Northern Samar, two of his running mates, and a civilian pilot were injured when the helicopter they were riding crash-landed at the shore of Laoang town Tuesday morning, police said.

Andre Abalon, incumbent mayor of San Roque, suffered “severe head injuries” and was brought to the Catarman Doctors’ Hospital, PO3 Michael Irinco, desk officer at the Laoang Police Station, said in a phone interview.

Dioscoro Asinas and Panoy Pinca, Abalon’s fellow candidates for provincial board member in Northern Samar’s second district, were brought to the same hospital along with pilot Capt. Dino Garcia due “minor injuries,” Irinco said.

The incident occurred around 9:30 a.m. while the helicopter piloted by Garcia was flying over in Brgy. Rawis.

The helicopter, allegedly rented by re-electionist 2nd District Rep. Emil Ong, crash landed due to “possible engine failure,” Irinco said, citing initial investigation results.

Ong is seeking re-election under the National Unity Party, where Abalon, Asinas, and Pinca are also listed, according to the Commission on Elections’ list of candidates. (John Roson)

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Air Force gets 2 new choppers

Two brand new Sokol helicopters have been delivered to the Air Force, raising the number of such helicopters in the military inventory to six.

The two helicopters were airlifted from Poland and arrived at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga on Monday, Air Force spokesman Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said in a statement Friday.

The helicopters will be turned over to the 505th Search and Rescue Group after undergoing assembly and final checks by the 410th Maintenance Wing, Okol said.

The helicopters, made by Polish firm PZL-Świdnik, are part of the eight that the government bought for P2.5 billion two years ago.

The first batch of four helicopters were delivered last February and the remaining two are expected to be delivered early next year, Okol said. (John Roson)

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The Department of National Defense plans to spend some P1.264 billion in acquiring “refurbished” UH-1 helicopters for the Air Force.

The sum will be used to acquire 13 units of UH-1 and eight units of upgraded UH-1 with the corresponding “integrated logistics support” package, the DND said in a bid announcement on its website.

“The guiding principles for this project shall be based on affordability and sustainability while conforming to the requirements of our Air Force in furtherance of accomplishing its mission,” defense undersecretary for finance, munitions, installations, and materiel Fernando Manalo said in the announcement.

Manalo, who chairs the special bids and awards committee overseeing the project, said they will hold a pre-bid conference on Nov. 6.

Companies interested in the project may submit their bids until Nov. 20 and are expected to deliver the goods 45 days from opening the contract, he said.

The UH-1, developed by Bell helicopter in 1952, first flew in 1956 and was mass-produced in the 60s.

While many of the 16,000 units rolled out saw action in the Vietnam War and are now on display, some are still being used in operations around the world. (John Roson)

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A Maestrale-class frigate (photo grabbed from Marina Militare [Italian Navy] website http://www.marina.difesa.it)

The Philippines is looking at buying frigates from Italy, jet fighters from South Korea, and attack helicopters from Eurocopter, defense officials said today.

Two Maestrale-class frigates used by the Italian Navy have been proposed for acquisition to President Benigno Aquino, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said in a press forum.

The two ships, which cost a total of P11.7 billion, will come armed with anti-air, anti-submarine, and surface-to-surface missiles, Gazmin said.

“They will be our most potent naval assets. They will help a lot in giving us a good defense posture,” he said, adding the ships may be delivered by November next year if the project is approved soon.

T-50 jets conducting maneuvers (photo grabbed from Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. website: http://www.koreaaero.com)

The department has also proposed to the President to consider acquiring 12 T-50 lead-in fighter jets from South Korea, Fernando Manalo, defense undersecretary for finance, munitions, installations and materiel, said in the same press forum.

“The T-50 is the most advantageous considering the situation in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

Once the project is completed, the country will immediately get two jets to train pilots, Gazmin said.

Meanwhile, Manalo said negotiation is ongoing to acquire 10 attack helicopters worth P3.2 billion from Eurocopter in France.

Two to four of these helicopters can be delivered within the year if the contract is signed before the end of the month, he said. (John Roson)

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The National Police has kicked out 10 officials, including two one-star generals, and imposed sanctions on other active and retired officials for involvement in the anomalous purchase of helicopters in 2009.

Dismissed from the service were Chief Superintendents Luis Saligumba and Herold Ubalde; Senior Supts. Job Nolan Antonio, Mansue Lukban, and Edgar Paatan; Supts. Roman Loreto and Ermilando Villafuerte; Chief Insp. Ma. Josefina Recometa, SPO4 Ma. Linda Padojinog, SPO1 Avensuel Dy, and non-uniformed personnel (NUP) Ruben Gongona, PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Generoso Cerbo said.

The dismissal, imposed following a resolution by the Office of the Ombudsman, took effect June 15.

It also forfeits the affected personnel’s retirement benefits and disqualifies them from holding any public office in the future, Cerbo said.

Ubalde resigned as head of the PNP Legal Service when investigation on the scam started last year and has not accepted any post ever since.

Meanwhile, Cerbo said the PNP leadership imposed sanctions on two retired generals and a former superintendent, also for their involvement in the scam.

Retired Directors Leocadio Santiago Jr., George Piano, and Supt. Claudio Gaspar Jr. were imposed with fines equivalent to one year’s worth of salary deducted from payment of accumulative leave credits.

The penalty also comes with forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification to hold public office, Cerbo said.

Santiago, Piano, and Gaspar retired last March, April, and February, respectively.

Six active personnel, on the other hand, were imposed with a six-month suspension starting June 15. They are Senior Supt. Joel Crisostomo Garcia, SPO3 Jorge Gabiana, PO3 Dionisio Jimenez, and NUPs Emilia Aliling, Edwin Chavarria, and Edwin Maranan.

The PNP bought three “brand new” helicopters in Sept. 2009 for P104.9 million, but an expose by Sen. Panfilo Lacson and a resulting probe showed that two of were already used by several individuals, including some members of the family of then President Gloria Arroyo. (John Roson)

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Navy to buy 2 more warships

The government plans to buy two more patrol ships like the one President Benigno Aquino III welcomed Tuesday.

“We are seriously discussing, proposing based on our absorptive capacity, maybe another two more,” Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said after the arrival ceremony for the BRP Gregorio del Pilar.

The Gregorio Del Pilar’s presence “sends a big message” to other countries who are entering territories in the West Philippine Sea, Pama told reporters. “It shows we mean what we say and we say what we mean,” he said.

The 45-year-old ship, acquired from the US Coast Guard, will patrol oil and gas projects off Palawan, Aquino said in welcoming the vessel at the Manila South Harbor.

The President vowed to push for the acquisition of more equipment for the military and police during his administration. “Hindi tayo titigil sa mga barko, hindi tayo makokontento sa mga helicopter,” he said.

Among the items to be acquired are trainer jets, strategic sea-lift vessels, naval helicopters, patrol ships, tanks, and coast watch systems, Aquino said.

The Navy is still studying whether it is practical to buy a submarine, he said.

“Pinagaaralan natin dahil masalimuot talaga, we don’t want to commit a mistake by jumping into something, we don’t want to buy something which eventually we cannot chew and swallow,” Pama said. (John Roson)

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