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Turk Helo Crash Blamed on Procurement Delays

Dec. 18, 2013 - 01:28PM   |  
By BURAK EGE BEKDIL   |   Comments
Turkish officials examine the wreckage of a military S-70 Sikorsky helicopter Dec. 17 that crashed in the outskirts of the capital Ankara, killing all four of its crew members. (Getty Images)
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ANKARA — Turkish defense industry sources speaking on condition of anonymity largely blamed a Dec. 17 helicopter crash that killed four on a slow-working procurement bureaucracy.

One major, one first lieutenant and two flight technicians were killed when a Turkish military helicopter crashed near Ankara , the Turkish military headquarters reported.

The pilots were undergoing a training flight near the Golbasi district when the S-70 Sikorsky crashed after hitting high voltage cables in heavy fog. Search and rescue teams recovered the bodies of the military personnel and transferred them to the forensic institute.

Administrative and judicial investigations into the accident are underway, a Turkish General Staff statement said.

Turkey’s procurement authorities decided to install “barrier detection systems” on military helicopters about three years ago. Since then, they have been zigzagging between local and off-the-shelf solutions.

The latest update on the website of Turkey’s procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), on June 29, 2012, said “the work to determine a modality for the program is in progress.”

An SSM official admitted delays in the program but denied this caused the mishap. “It is true that this program has taken longer than we thought. But I am not sure if today’s crash can be blamed on that,” he said.

But senior industry experts said the S-70 would probably have averted Tuesday’s crash had it been outfitted with a detection system.

“This is not the first accident of its kind. That’s why the military specified a need for a detection system. A couple of years after the determination of the need, the procurement bureaucracy is still trying to find out the optimal modality,” complained one expert.

One industry source said such a detection system would cost about $20,000 to $25,000 per helicopter.

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