Philippine military grounds Black Hawk helicopters after crash kills 6

PHOTO: Twitter/Antonov Airlines

MANILA - Philippine defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday (June 24) ordered the grounding of the military's fleet of Black Hawk helicopters after a crash during a training mission in a province north of the capital Manila killed six people.

The S-70i Black Hawk helicopter, one of 16 purchased in 2019 from Poland, crashed on Wednesday evening after taking off from a former United States military base in Pampanga province, the air force said in a statement.

Search and rescue teams later found the wreckage of the combat utility helicopter, it said, adding that an investigation has been launched.

Six Black Hawks, including the one that crashed, were delivered in November, while five others were shipped early this month and are under technical inspection.

The final batch is due to be delivered later this year.

In July, four soldiers died and another was injured after a "Huey" military helicopter crashed while taking off for a night-time training operation in the northern Philippines.

Much of the equipment used by the military is ageing, including World War II-era warships and Vietnam War-vintage aircraft, and the government has allotted more than US$6 billion (S$8.07 billion) to upgrade its defence capabilities between 2018 and next year.