KEMAMAN, 20 June 2017:

The lack of a black box on the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Hawk 108 fighter jet which crashed last Thursday poses one of the biggest challenges in collating evidence and investigating the tragedy, says RMAF chief general Datuk Seri Affendi Buang.

He said the aircraft did not have a black box for the security of air force operations. “Most existing RMAF aircraft do not have a black box, and the RMAF has its own method to determine the cause of the crash.

“When a thing like this (Hawk 108 fighter jet crash) occurs, it poses a challenge to us to investigate the case. Thank God, the RMAF managed to collect early evidence through radar detectors,” he told reporters after inspecting the crash site at Kampung Yak Yah in Chukai here.

On how long it would take to remove the aircraft’s main body from the ground, Affendi said it was expected to take about two to three days.

The RMAF chief said the aircraft was believed to have fallen at high speed based on the deep hole created by the impact on the ground.

“At the moment, the RMAF cannot estimate the depth of the hole. Therefore, we have called in experts from the Science and Technology Research Institute for Defence (STRIDE) to examine the swampy surface of the crash site and determine the cause of the crash.”

He said military and police personnel were posted at the crash site round-the-clock to prevent trespassers and evidence from being compromised.

Meanwhile, a Bernama survey at the site saw personnel carrying out investigative works amid the pungent smell of jet fuel.

On the status of other Hawk 108 and 208 aircraft in the fleet, Affendi said the RMAF had suspended the operations of the two types of aircraft, pending the crash investigation.

Thursday’s crash claimed the lives of two air force pilots, Major Hasri Zahari, 31, and Major Yazmi Mohamed Yusof, 39.

The aircraft had taken off from the Kuantan Air Base at 11am before there was a communication cut-off about half-an-hour later. The bodies of both victims were found at 2.30pm in the Kampung Yak Yah forested swamp on the same day.

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