Losses and Aviation Safety

USMC suffers the losses of two aircraft in less than 24 hours: CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter and AV-8B Harrier jet crashes

All four crew members aboard the CH-53E are presumed dead while the AV-8B pilot ejected safely

As reported by Military.com, on Apr. 4, 2018 a U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter went down shortly after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday near El Centro, a few miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.

The aircraft crashed during a Southern California training mission and all four crew members are presumed killed, the military said.

The helicopter was with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) out of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar, California, according to a base press statement.

The nearby Naval Air Facility (NAF) El Centro messaged that the crash site was north of Plaster City, west of El Centro.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Noteworthy Tuesday’s California crash is the deadliest involving a Marine aircraft since a KC-130T transport plane crashed into a soybean field in Mississippi on Jul. 10, 2017, killing 15 Marines and a sailor.

The California crash also occurred on the same day that a USMC AV-8B Harrier jet crashed during takeoff from from Djibouti Ambouli International Airport, Djibouti. The service says the pilot ejected safely and is receiving medical care. The aircraft was assigned to VMM-162. A detachment of Harriers from VMA-231 are currently assigned to VMM-162.

The CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest helicopter in the U.S. military. It is used for minesweeping and transport and can carry dozens of troops and tons of cargo.

Two years ago, 12 Marines died when two of the helicopters collided off the coast of Oahu in Hawaii.

Last October, a CH-53E helicopter from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 (HMH-462) made an emergency landing in an empty field near Higashi village, Okinawa, after having experienced an in-flight engine fire. No injuries were reported among the seven crewmembers aboard the helicopter.

In 2005, 31 people died when a CH-53E helicopter went down in Iraq during a sandstorm.

Photo credit: U.S. Marine Corps and Cpl. Samuel A. Nasso 

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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