Vietnam grounds decades-old Huey choppers after fatal crash

AP News
Posted: Jan 30, 2015 5:17 AM

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam's military announced Friday it has temporarily grounded Vietnam War-era U.S.-built helicopters after a crash killed four personnel.

The UH-1 "Huey" chopper crashed in farmland on Wednesday soon after taking off from Ho Chi Minh City on a training flight.

Army Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan said all UH-1 helicopters would be grounded for maintenance checks. He said an investigation discovered that crew members had found a problem with the control system of the doomed aircraft and had tried unsuccessfully to fix it.

Tuan said the chopper, one of some 50 Hueys originally belonging to American forces but seized by the victorious communists when the war ended in 1975, was overhauled in the United States in 2012. He said had been decommissioned for failing to meet safety standards, but declined to say how many are still in service.

Last July, a Russian-made helicopter on a training mission crashed near Hanoi, killing 20 people aboard. One soldier survived with severe burns.

In the face of increasing assertiveness by neighboring China in contested territory in the South China Sea, Vietnam has stepped up modernization of its military with the purchase of six Russian-made Kilo-class submarines and a number of Russian fighter planes. It is also looking to acquire patrol boats from Japan and India.