4 Crew ‘Presumed Dead’ After Largest US Helicopter CH-53E Crashes on Training Mission in California

A US Marine Corps helicopter has had an “incident” while flying over Plaster City, California, the US Navy has confirmed, releasing no immediate details on casualties.

“We are currently still responding to what we have confirmed as a single helicopter incident. We ask that you continue to be patient with us as the situation unfolds,” Naval Air Facility El Centro said in a Facebook post.

The incident, involving a single helicopter, occurred just north of Plaster City at around 2:35pm local time on Tuesday. The US military quickly dispatched fire and security units along with other helicopters, to conduct a search and rescue operation.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the brave service members and their families affected by this incident,” Kristopher Haugh, public affairs officer for NAF El Centro, was quoted as saying by KYMA local TV station.

“We are thankful for the efforts of all who have responded to the scene and provided assistance,” he added, without specifying if any casualties resulted from the incident.

US Army photo of AH-64 helicopter © Staff Sgt. Jeremy Ganz 4th Infantry Division
While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed the military helicopter crash to News 11 via email, NAF El Centro has yet to release more information on the incident.

According to the information obtained by a local news outlet, Desert Review, the aircraft involved was a US Marine corps CH-53E, the largest and heaviest helicopter in the US military. Dubbed the Super Stallion, the Sikorsky CH-53E can carry up to 60 troops and crew, although there has been no word so far on how many personnel may have been on board during the accident.

Tuesday’s helicopter incident is not the first over US territory this year. In January, two US army pilots were killed after their AH-64 Apache chopper crashed during a training exercise over the Californian desert.

Source