Mon, Aug 20, 2007
Fleet Taken Offline Following Accident
The Philippine Air Force decided to
ground its fleet of US-manufactured MG-520 Defender helicopter
gunships Sunday, after one went down a day earlier while engaged in
a clash with Muslim insurgents.
Saturday's accident resulted in the loss of one of the
helicopter's two pilots. Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, a regional military
commander, denied reports that the helicopter (file photo of
similar type, right) was brought down by enemy fire, according to
the Philippine Star. Cedo claims engine trouble caused the accident
when the helicopter was headed back to a military camp.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao
Command told the Manila Bulletin the two pilots were flying the
MG-520 back to Edwin Andrews Air Force Base in Zamboanga City when
it apparently developed an engine problem and went down in the
Philippine Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Epifanio Panzo told the
Star 17 MG-520s were ordered to be grounded while an investigation
into the cause of the crash is conducted. The helicopter impacted
an area near southern Basilan Island.
The MG-520 is a four-seat light attack helicopter produced by
McDonnell Douglas. The helicopter is equipped with machine guns and
rockets for infantry support.
Air Force investigators were at the site of the accident to
coordinate the retrieval of the helicopter wreckage, and determine
the cause of the crash.
Due to the MG-520s being grounded, Filipino troops will have to
temporarily use a fleet of Vietnam-era Huey helicopters and OV-10
bomber aircraft in an offensive against Abu Sayyaf insurgents on
Basilan and Jolo Island, Panzo told the Star.
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