An MH-60R Seahawk helicopter of the Australian Navy crashed in the Philippine Sea on Wednesday night, October 13, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
All three crew members of the chopper were safely rescued by the Royal Australian Navy, according to the military. Australia’s Department of Defence said in a statement Thursday, October 14, that the helicopter had an emergency landing in the Philippine Sea.
The Australian defense department added that the crew were rescued in less than 30 minutes.
“HMAS Brisbane deployed sea boats and rescued the crew approximately 20 minutes later. The crew received first aid for minor injuries upon their return to HMAS Brisbane,” the department said.
According to the AFP, the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter has been operating from the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Brisbane. The chopper and the vessel, along with HMAS Warramunga, operate in the region as part of their presence deployment.
Australia’s defense department added that the Australian Navy continues to look for debris that would help in determining the cause of the incident. The department also announced that it ordered a temporary pause in the operations of its entire MH-60R fleet.
According to the AFP, the Australian assets were conducting "a number of navy-to-navy engagements with partner nations" in countries in Southeast and Northeast Asia.
Recently, in September, allies Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (AUKUS) signed a trilateral agreement that would “strengthen the ability of each to support our security and defense interests.” On September 17, Australia’s Minister for Defense Peter Dutton formally informed Lorenzana of the said agreement.
With Australia cooperating with Manila allies like the UK and the US, the Philippines would likely benefit from the pact as it tries to push back the invasive activities of China.
The Australian chopper crash was the latest aerial accident in the country. In July, a C-130 plane of the Philippine Army crashed in Patikul town in Sulu, and killed 53 people.
According to the military, the crash was caused by multiple factors, which include ‘material, human, environmental factors.’ – Rappler.com