A Major Military Accident in Early January: Bad Omen for the New Decade?
In Taiwan, the military forces of the Republic of China (ROC) saw the New Year of 2020 begin with a very unfortunate accident. Shortly after 8:00am on Jan. 2nd, an ROC Air Force Black Hawk helicopter crashed in the mountainous area of the Wulai District, located outside the capital city of Taipei. General Shen Yi-ming, who served as Taiwan's Chief of the General Staff (CGS), died in the crash. Seven other military personnel also lost their lives. Five other military passengers on board, four officers and one reporter, were injured.
Military authorities in Taiwan quickly set up a task force, promising a thorough investigation into the cause of the crash. The flight recorders of the helicopter were recovered within 24 hours, and promptly delivered to the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board.
Speaking on behalf of the U.S. military, General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a statement to express condolences to members of the Republic of China armed forces on the death of General Shen and the seven other military personnel. Officials of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) also issued a statement extending its condolences. On Jan. 3rd, the U.S. flag at the AIT Main Office in Taipei flew at half-staff.
A previous Black Hawk helicopter accident occurred on Feb. 5, 2019, off the southeast coast of Taiwan. Dispatched to the offshore island of LanYu to pick up a sick patient, it crashed into the sea shortly after take-off.
After this latest crash in Jan. 2020, the ROC's Ministry of the Interior announced that all Black Hawks of the same model would be grounded for safety inspections for the foreseeable future.
Many individuals in Taiwan have suggested that maintenance procedures for military aircraft need to be thoroughly upgraded. Knowledgeable commentators have also offered other suggestions and strategies that hopefully could ensure that the ROC military never suffers such accidents again in the future.
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