Losses and Aviation Safety

ATAC HAWKER HUNTER CRASHES OFF THE COAST OF SAN DIEGO

The pilot was able to eject and was recovered by a helicopter attached to HSC-6 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt

On Aug. 22, 2017 a Hawker Hunter aircraft operated by ATAC (Airborne Tactical Advantage Company) defense contractor crashed about 100 miles off the coast of San Diego while it was “providing support to the Composite Training Unit Exercise for the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group,” the Third Fleet said in statement.

As reported by Fox 5, the pilot was able to eject and was recovered by a helicopter attached to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron SIX (HSC-6), aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).

The pilot was then taken to Navy Medical Center San Diego for a full medical assessment.

Noteworthy Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) tests a carrier strike group’s mission-readiness and certifies that strike group for deployment. Generally during COMPUTEX “contracted aircraft” are tasked to play the role of the enemy.

Even though the cause of the accident is not yet known, Rich Martindell a former Hawker Hunter pilot, told NBC 7 that “There’s a number of different things that can go wrong. You have mechanical or internal failure of the engine itself that causes the engine to quit operating. You can have a loss of fuel to the engine. You can have a loss of oil to lube the engine that causes it to seize and fail. There are all types of reasons that could cause an engine to fail, and that’s part of what accident investigations will look into.”

The Hawker Hunter took off from Naval Base Ventura County.

Originally designed as an air superiority fighter in the 1950’s, the Hunter went on to become the most successful post-war British Military aircraft with almost 2000 being produced. Of these, about one third were later rebuilt by the manufacturer to zero time standard, the last leaving the Dunsfold factory in 1976. Aided by its high power to weight ratio, inherent strength and adaptability, the design evolved from the pure fighter in to a superlative ground attack aircraft, the pinnacle of the design being the Swiss MK58 Hunters. This version was continuously updated to accommodate the latest weapons systems prior to being prematurely retired in the mid 1990’s as a direct result of the end of the Cold War.

A pair of ex-Swiss Air Force Hunters flying in close formation behind a single Mirage III, 2011

Photo credit: Lance Cpl. Ashley Phillips / U.S. Marine Corps and Sandstein via Wikipedia

Additional source: ATAC

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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