Two crew members were killed in a helicopter crash Thursday as Taiwan’s military held drills across the island — including one simulating coastal assaults from China.
Thursday’s climax of the five-day drill aimed to test how democratic Taiwan’s armed forces would repel an invasion from its giant neighbour.
The OH-58D helicopter was on its way home after taking part in the annual Han Kuang military exercise when it crashed at the base in Hsinchu and caught fire, according to official reports.
“The OH-58D observation and reconnaissance aircraft belonged to the army’s 601st Aviation Brigade. It was returning from a drill in the third operation zone. It later crash-landed at the Hsinchu air force base for reasons unknown,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
“Chief pilot Major Chien Jen-Chuan and co-pilot Captain Kao Chia-lung were rushed to the hospital for treatment but died from their injuries,” it said.
The defence ministry statement said the army command had set up a committee to investigate the cause of the accident. It also ordered all OH-58Ds to be grounded until further notice.
The Taiwanese military said earlier that the aircraft was one of 39 OH-58Ds the air force had bought from American manufacturer Bell Helicopter.
Thursday’s accident is the third involving such an aircraft in the past two years. However, it is the first to have led to the loss of life.