‘Routine’ helicopter mission in the Mediterranean leaves 5 US service members dead

‘Routine’ helicopter mission in the Mediterranean leaves 5 US service members dead

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A photo of a helicopter landing on the USS Gerald R. Ford.
An MH-60S Sea Hawk conducts hoisting exercises aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford.

  • The US Military said five service members died during a training mission in the Mediterranean. 
  • It’s unclear if these troops are involved with the strike groups sent near Israel. 
  • So far, dozens of service members have died this year during training missions.

Five US service people were killed when a military helicopter crashed over the eastern Mediterranean Sea during a training mission, US officials said Sunday.

The military‘s European Command said all five crew members on board were killed when the aircraft went down “during a routine air refueling mission as part of military training.”

The military first announced the crash on Saturday and said that the cause is under investigation, but there are no indications of any hostile activity involved. It said on Sunday that “search and rescue efforts began immediately, including nearby US military aircraft and ships.”

The New York Times reported the crash involved an MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and involved US Army Special Operations forces. The outlet also reported the incident happened near Cyprus.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that “we mourn the tragic loss of five US service members during a training accident in the Mediterranean Sea early Saturday morning.”

“While we continue to gather more information about this deadly crash, it is another stark reminder that the brave men and women who defend our great nation put their lives on the line each and every day to keep our country safe,” he said.

European Command said that out of respect for the families of the service members and in line with Department of Defense policy, the identities of the crew members are being withheld for 24 hours until the families of those killed have been notified.

The Air Force has sent additional squadrons to the region, and the USS Gerald R. Ford, which has an array of aircraft on board, has also been operating in the eastern Mediterranean. The USS Gerald R. Ford and its accompanying strike group — a sizable amount of military vessels to the region — includes multiple warships and F-35 fight jets. In addition to the Ford, the US Military sent the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group.

The US military said it did so to deter violence in the region and to show support for Israel as it continues its deadly ground invasion and aerial bombardment of Gaza.

This year has seen a series of US service member deaths as a result of helicopter crashes during training. In August, three service members died, and 20 were injured after a Boeing MV-22B Osprey crashed during a training exercise in Australia.

Before that, in February, March, and April, three other separate crashes killed a total of 14 service members during helicopter training. Another crash in June in Syria resulted in 22 injuries.

None of the crashes occurred due to “enemy fire,” Insider previously reported.

It isn’t just helicopter training that has resulted in accidents: In September, the US military announced a search for a missing F-35 jet after its pilot ejected during training. The debris was eventually found.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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