Air Accidents Kill More U.S. Troops Than Afghanistan
U.S. Military Aviation
At the beginning of April, the U.S. military experienced three air crashes in two days, two of which proved fatal. On April 3, a Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed in the U.S. while an AV-8B Harrier was lost in Dijibouti. Four service members were killed in the helicopter crash while the Harrier pilot ejected and survived. Those two incidents were followed by the crash of an F-16 in Nevada on April 4. The pilot, a member of the Air Force Thunderbirds flight demonstration team, died in the crash.
A series of deadly accidents has raised questions about whether U.S. military aviation is in the middle of a crisis. 14 service members have died in crashes since the beginning of March and the deadliest incident occurred when a HH-60 helicopter struck power lines in Iraq killing seven airmen. Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry, released a statement on Saturday saying that the "readiness of the military is at crisis point". At a Pentagon briefing, Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said that he is not prepared to characterize the crashes as evidence of a "wave" or "crisis", adding that the military will conduct an investigation into each incident.
Website Task & Purpose have kept track of all the crashes and unfortunately, the recent trend is nothing new. The military has experienced a higher than average accident rate over the past year. The number of fatalities in air crashes between April 2017 and April 2018 has surpassed combat deaths in Afghanistan for the same time period. Last year, two fatal collisions involving U.S. Navy warships in busy shipping lanes attracted headlines and also raised questions about military preparedness. On top of that, the spate of accidents involving aircraft surely suggests some elements of the military have indeed reached crisis point.
This chart shows accidents involving U.S. military aircraft from April 2017 to April 2018.
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