Army helicopter crashes in northern Colombia — RT World News

Nine members of the Colombian military were killed when a helicopter crashed in a rural area in the northern part of the country on Monday, according to the Colombian Armed Forces.

The Colombian military said the Russian-made MI-17 helicopter crashed while delivering supplies to soldiers to the municipality of Santa Rosa del Sur, Bolivar department, on the Caribbean coast.

The area recently witnessed fighting between the National Liberation Army group and the drug trafficking group known as the Gulf Clan. The gang is one of the most powerful criminal gangs in the South American country, and is believed to include about 6,000 armed men.

While on a routine mission, the helicopter suddenly lost contact with its base, triggering an emergency search and rescue operation.

The cause of the accident is unknown. The military described the incident as an accident, although some suspected it was a technical problem.

The Colombian Army has recently had problems with the maintenance of its Mi-17 helicopters. Most of them have reached the maximum limit of 2,000 trips, making maintenance mandatory to ensure safety.

According to a report on the Infodefensa portal, contracts for maintenance of the Mi-17 had to be suspended. The Colombian government contractor – National Aviation Services Corp. – has reportedly been unable to receive payments amid Western sanctions on Russia.

In 2023, the Russian side offered the Colombian Ministry of Defense several options for continuing the maintenance of Mi-17 aircraft, according to an official statement from the Russian Embassy in Bogotá.

According to local media, there are about 20 Mi-17 helicopters in Colombia's arsenal. However, only nine are ready to fly. The operational helicopters are expected to remain in service until approximately 2026-2027.

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