AFP: Unfair to judge Air Force UH-1HD as unreliable following Sarangani crash
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - November 8, 2015 - 3:43am

MANILA, Philippines - The military on Sunday said it is unfair to assume that the crash in Sarangani that left nine soldiers injured last Saturday validated claims that the UH-1HD helicopter is unreliable.

Armed Forces spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said the Air Force is still investigating the incident so it is too early to make assumptions.

“That’s unfair, that’s highly speculative because the cause of the accident is still unknown,” Padilla said when asked whether the accident gives credence to claims that the Huey model is not reliable.

“Let us wait for the assessment of the investigative body,” he added.

Air Force spokesman Col. Enrico Canaya echoed the same view, noting that such mishap can happen to any air asset.

“Let us allow the investigation to proceed to see the real cause if the accident. It was an accident and it could happen to any aircraft especially those involved in combat operations. Combat operations can be unpredictable,” he said.

On Saturday, a UH-1D helicopter crashed in Malapatan, Sarangani while evacuating wounded soldiers of the 73rd Infantry Battalion.

Nine government troopers, four from the Air Force and five from the Army, were injured during the incident, which happened at around 9:40 a.m. While the Air Force has yet to finish its probe of the mishap, some military officials believe the helicopter may have crashed due to strong winds.  

The accident happened months after the Defense department was accused of acquiring old and defective UH-1HD helicopters.   

The government was supposed to buy 21 helicopters from the joint venture of American firm Rice Aircraft Services Inc. and Canadian company Eagle Copters Ltd. for P1.2 billion.

However, the Defense department’s Special Bids and Awards Committee-1 has been accused of favoring the supplier and for allowing the purchase of unreliable air assets.

Critics of the project claimed that the suppliers had delivered UH-1D helicopters instead of the more advanced UH-1H model.

The Defense department, however, maintained that there were no irregularities in the project and that the contract merely required the winning bidder to deliver UH-1 helicopters, the generic term for the helicopters.

The agency has cleared its officials who were tagged in the deal but eventually terminated the contract because of the failure of suppliers to deliver the helicopters on time.

ACIRC AIR FORCE ARMED FORCES EAGLE COPTERS LTD ENRICO CANAYA INFANTRY BATTALION ON SATURDAY RESTITUTO PADILLA RICE AIRCRAFT SERVICES INC SARANGANI SPECIAL BIDS AND AWARDS COMMITTEE
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