Losses and Aviation Safety

USAF HH-60G that crashed in Iraq last March struck steel cable before impacting the ground

The cable entangled in the HH-60G’s main rotor assembly resulting in catastrophic damage and an unflyable condition

According to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter that crashed in Iraq on Mar. 15, 2018 struck a galvanized steel cable before impacting an uninhabited desert area near Al Qaim in western Anbar Province.

The aircraft was assigned to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing.

Four flight crew members and three pararescuemen were killed in the mishap. There were no civilian injuries or damage to private property. The aircraft, valued at approximately $49 million, was destroyed on impact.

The mishap occurred during a mission to preposition a helicopter formation to a landing zone closer to the vicinity of ground operations.

The investigation concluded that the pilot misinterpreted aircraft navigation displays, which caused the formation to overfly the intended destination. As a result, the aircraft descended into an unplanned location, striking a 3/8-inch diameter galvanized steel cable strung horizontally between two 341-foot high towers. The cable quickly entangled in the HH-60G’s main rotor assembly resulting in catastrophic damage and an unflyable condition.

The HH-60G Pave Hawk is a highly modified version of the Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter which features an upgraded communications and navigation suite that includes integrated inertial navigation/global positioning/Doppler navigation systems, satellite communications, secure voice, and Have Quick communications.

The primary mission of the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter is to conduct day or night personnel recovery operations into hostile environments to recover isolated personnel during war. The HH-60G is also tasked to perform military operations other than war, including civil search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, humanitarian assistance, security cooperation/aviation advisory, NASA space flight support, and rescue command and control.

Photo credit: Senior Airman Brian Ferguson / U.S. Air Force

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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