Downed Sokol chopper can be repaired – Air Force

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Photo from the defense department shows an Air Force Sokol helicopter providing security to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas after it crashed as it took off from Camp Ranao in Marawi City yesterday.

MANILA, Philippines — The W-3A “Sokol” helicopter that crashed in Marawi City while part of the convoy of Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II last week can still be repaired, a Philippine Air Force official said.

“Initially, based on the damage to the airframe, it will be costly and will take time to recover. Costs and how long to repair are  not yet determined,” Lieutenant Colonel Enrico Canaya, Air Force spokesman, said in a state news report.

The downed air asset is among the eight Sokol helicopters of the Air Force acquired brand new from Polish firm PZL-Swidnik and British-Italian firm AugustaWestland for P2.8 billion in 2012.

The unit, which was designated backup helicopter for the one carrying Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, crashed immediately after taking off at Camp Ranao on August 7. A crew member and a civilian were injured from the crash.

Canaya said that the manufacturer has been notified of the incident, the cause of which has not yet been ascertained.

The seven remaining “Sokol” helicopters in service have been grounded as a precautionary measure until after findings have been released by the investigation team. – Camille Diola

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