Tag Archive: Sokol helicopter


The Philippine Air Force has informed the maker of its Sokol helicopters about last Thursday’s crash in Marawi City and asked the company to help determine the cause.

“The manufacturer was already notified through its local representative and they shall assist the PAF in determining the cause of the accident,” Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Enrico Canaya said Saturday.

Canaya said investigation into the crash has already started and might take some time.

“It may take time but PAF will [try] to expedite the process,” he said.

Investigators have also yet to assess if the helicopter can be repaired, Canaya said.

The ill-fated Sokol no. 295 is one of eight units which the government bought from Polish manufacturer PZL Swidnik and British-Italian firm AugustaWestland for P2.8 billion.

It remained at the crash site in Kampo Ranao, Brgy. Saber, as of Saturday but will be moved to facilitate the probe.

“We are moving it to a secure place where investigators can further examine the parts for clues. I have no information yet where it will be moved,” Canaya said.

The seven remaining Sokol units will be grounded until the investigation is completed, he said.

Meanwhile, Canaya said the military has also made assessments of the damage suffered by the community where the crash occurred.

Military photos and television reports showed that roofs and walls of some houses and a daycare center, as well as wooden fences, were blown away by strong winds from the helicopter.

“Efforts were already done to the determine the damage to properties caused by the acccident and the military will address this matter,” Canaya said.

The crash also left the helicopter’s gunner and a local resident slightly injured. (John Roson)

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The Air Force grounded its remaining seven Sokol helicopters after one crashed in Marawi City last Thursday.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, for his part, ordered the Air Force to report the crash to the company that made the helicopters, which the government acquired just recently.

“PAF was directed to inform the Sokol maufacturer about the incident,” Gazmin said Friday, adding that the Air Force is now investigating the crash.

Lieutenant Colonel Enrico Canaya, Air Force spokesman, said the remaining Sokol units will be grounded until investigators determine what caused the crash.

A 21-member “investigating and recovery team” led by Col. Frederick Cutler, of Air Force Safety Office, arrived in Marawi from Villamor Air Base yesterday to carry out the probe, Canaya told reporters.

“The Sokol helicopters will not be used for the meantime but we still have other helicopters to fill up the gap,” he said.

The Sokol helicopter no. 291 crashed around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, shortly after taking off from the Army 103rd Brigade’s Kampo Ranao headquarters in Brgy. Saber.

It was supposed to escort two other helicopters carrying Gazmin, Interior Sec. Mar Roxas, and Energy Sec. Jericho Petilla to Cagayan de Oro City.

The ill-fated chopper’s passengers, including Army 4th Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, escaped unharmed but its gunner and a civilian child playing near the crash site were injured.

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 (no. 925) 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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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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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 Philippines has approved plans to buy fighter jets and other military aircraft and may sign contracts for the projects this year, Air Force spokesman Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said.

Senior officials of the Department of National Defense approved plans for the Air Force to buy 12 units, or a squadron, of lead-in fighter trainer jets, eight light transport planes, three medium transport planes, and attack helicopters, Okol said in a phone interview.

“They have been approved by the senior leadership and we expect their contracts to be signed within the year. It will take about two years for that to be delivered,” he said.

Last Tuesday, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Philippines is looking at several countries, including South Korea, France, and Italy for its fighter jet acquisition.

The Air Force retired its last seven F5 fighter jets in 2005, after being in service for 40 years.

Meanwhile, Okol said the Air Force expects two C-130 carrier planes and four Sokol combat utility helicopters to be delivered to in the coming months.

One C-130 plane will arrive in the first week of June after having undergone depot maintenance in the US while the other, which was repaired locally, may be released in November, he said.

The four Sokol helicopters, expected to arrive also in November, are among the eight which the Philippines bought from Italian-Polish firm Augusta PZL Swidnik for P2.8 billion. The other four were turned over to the Air Force last March. (John Roson)

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