This post has been updated.
More U.S. military service members have died in aircraft mishaps over the past year than have died while serving in Afghanistan under the Operation Freedom’s Sentinel mission.
That terrible sentence makes me think there is a definite crisis in military aviation. It should give Pentagon leaders pause that a junior soldier can be more confident of their safety downrange, receiving imminent danger pay, than sitting in the back of a helicopter stateside.
Pentagon leaders, apparently, disagree.
“I would reject ‘wave’ and ‘crisis,’” Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., director the Joint Staff, told reporters Thursday at the Pentagon when asked about the recent, well, wave of air incidents that have killed 14 service members since the beginning of March.
“Those are that mishaps that occurred,” McKenzie continued. “We are going to look at each one in turn. Each one is tragic. We regret each one. I’m certainly not prepared to say it’s a wave of mishaps or some form of crisis.”
If this isn’t a crisis or a wave, I’d like to know what is:
- April 17, 2017: Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashes in Maryland. One soldier killed, two injured.
- June 23, 2017: Air Force F-16 flips over after skidding off the runway. Pilot injured.
- July 10, 2017: Marine KC-130 explodes in mid-air over Mississippi. 15 Marines and one Sailor killed.
- Aug. 5, 2017: Marine MV-22 Osprey helicopter crashes off Australia coast. 3 Marines killed.
- Aug. 12, 2017: Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet crash lands at Bahrain International Airport. Pilot survives after ejecting.
- Aug. 15, 2017: Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashes off coast of Hawaii. Five soldiers killed.
- Aug. 25, 2017: Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashes off coast of Yemen. One soldier killed.
- Sep. 28, 2017: V-22 Osprey suffers “hard landing” in Syria. Two service members injured.
- Oct. 1, 2017: Navy T-45C Goshawk trainer jet crashes in eastern Tennessee. Two naval aviators killed.
- Oct. 11, 2017: Marine CH-53E helicopter burst into flames after crash landing near residential area in Okinawa, Japan. All seven crew members survive.
- Nov. 22, 2017: Navy C-2A Greyhound crashes southeast of Okinawa, Japan. Eight of 11 crew rescued. Three sailors lost at sea.
- Jan. 22, 2018: Army AH-64E Apache helicopter crashes during training in California. Two soldiers killed.
- March 14, 2018: Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet crashes off Florida coast. Two naval aviators killed.
- March 15, 2018: Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashes in western Iraq after hitting a power line. Seven airmen killed.
- April 3, 2018: Marine AV-8B Harrier crashes shortly after takeoff in Djibouti. Pilot ejects and survives.
- April 3, 2018: Marine CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashes during training in California. Four Marines killed.
- April 4, 2018: Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon crashes during routine aerial demonstration training flight. Pilot killed.
That’s 47 service members dead, in just one year. Over that same time period, 31 service members died in Afghanistan.
What the hell is going on?
If I missed any incidents, please let me know here.
Correction: A previous version of this article said the Jan. 22 crash involved an AH-64A. It was actually an AH-64E.