S 61 Nuri wreckage found, crew died

The aircraft and crew of the fateful RMAF S 61 utility helicopter which went missing six days ago was found in thick jungle within 5 km from Genting Sempah, at 1.24pm. All the crew did not survive the crash. Bernama.com has the story, Nuri wreckage found, all six airforce on board killed’. Bad weather has been initially blamed for the accident.

At the moment efforts are being made to extricate the bodies from the crash site.

Apparently, this is the 18th crash of the same type since the initially acquired 40 units and RMAF started operations 39 years ago. Considering that it is a utility helicopter and the backbone of RMAF and ATM operations all these years, especially during the days of fighting communist terrorists, in the interiors, the S 61 Nuri have shown an impeccable service record for our security forces.

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The Government have been looking for the S 61 replacement since more than few years ago. However, the limited millitary spending by MINDEF have kept the program on priority KIV all these while, in favour of other serious spending such as the acquisition of the two Scorpene class submarines and 18 Su30MKM multirole combat aircrafts. Replacement is expected to cost between USD 20-30 million per aircraft and dependent on the specifications that goes with it. Amongst the shortlisted are Eurocopter NH 90, Sikorsky S 70 Blackhawk and Mi 171. A more high end tri-engined Augusta Westland EH 101 should be the perfect replacement for the S 61 Nuri fleet but it was deemed too pricey.

When asked to comment on the grounding of the remaining 20 odd S 61 Nuris, the Deputy Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohamed Najib Tun Razak, who is also the Defence Minister said that the aircrafts are the backbone of RMAF and ATM operations. Until replacements arrive, they will be still servicing the needs of the security forces.

Currently the Army Air Corp is operating 16 units of Augusta 109E multirole utility helicopter and the RMN Naval Air Wing is operating 6 units Westland Superlynx 300 and 6 units Eurocopter AS 555N Fennec for their specific operational needs.

On another note, a group of press people is lost in the Genting Sempah jungle area. They went in at 5.45pm with some police personnel and forest rangers for the crash site but were asked to turn back by the army. On the way out, they are unable to find their way. One of the reporters called their colleague who was waiting by the side of the Karak Highway. A search party has been dispatched to locate the missing press.

* Photo taken from Airliners.net, www.airliners.net

Published in: on July 18, 2007 at 00:06  Comments (8)