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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Another S61A4 Nuri Crash - Tawau

Today, another RMAF S61A4 Nuri had suffered a catastrophic emergency landing.  This time, the unfortunate helicopter has crash-landed on top of SMK Balung, a school in Tawau. 

MINDEF Press Statement

The helicopter which once was called as the Jolly Green Giant by US Navy was believed to be in a routine flight when the pilot was said to have lost control of the helicopter.

Serving Malaysian Armed Forces since 1961, the helicopter served as the backbone of Malaysian Armed Forces' effort against communist guerrillas in both Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.  It served a very critical role to resupply and to evacuate critically wounded personnel; countless personnel owed their lives to the helicopters and their brave pilots.  At one point in time, RMAF became the world largest operator of S61A4 Nuri.

Courtesy of Perajurit

That is 55 years of continuous service to the country.

While the cause of the incident is still unknown, I believe the age of the helicopter did play a part.  Ask yourself, would you still want to drive a your grandfather's 55 year-old clunky old car on daily basis?  Heck! I bet you would even think twice to enter a 15 year-old Boeing or Airbus plane for your vacation or work.

In 2009, RMAF ordered 12 units of EC725 CSAR version ostensibly to replace the ageing Nuri.  However, one of the losing competitors took it out to the media and claimed that bribery was involved and claimed that RMAF had bought the Cougars at an exorbitant price, while hiding the fact that our Cougars were CSAR version and they had compared it to a basic version.

Worst still, the issue was later picked by Opposition to paint a negative light on the Government.

That resulted in the Government reluctant to make a follow through purchase of the helicopters, even when the contract had been okayed by the Parliamentary Accountability Committee.

With only 12 new helicopters to replace an approximate 48 to 50 S61A4 Nuri, this has led to serious gaps which were revealed in the December 2014 flooding and Laban Rata earthquake in 2015. 
Additional operational need due to ESSCOM also saw the helicopter being operated extensively.

Not to forget too the many mercy flights that RMAF has to undertake as Ministry of Health does not have their own helicopters. 

While I understand that the government has financial constraint in committing funds to upgrade our ageing armed forces, the government has a moral duty to provide the most suitable equipment for men and women of our Armed Forces to serve and defend our country.

The Government owe these men, women and civilian a moral duty.

The Government owe these men, women and civilian a moral duty.

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