Second military plane crashes in Imperial County in 2 days

A Navy helicopter crashed into Imperial County Thursday night, less than 48 hours after a Marine Corps plane crashed in the same county, killing all five Marines on board, authorities say.

The incident follows several other crashes across the country and has revived military aviation safety concerns dating back years.

An Imperial County Fire Department representative told The Times that firefighters were called to Highway 78 near Palo Verde at 5:43 p.m. to report a downed military plane.

The representative declined to share his name when asked.

Soldiers also arrived on the scene, he said.

“I can confirm that a US Navy helicopter crashed today at a US Navy training facility near El Centro, California. According to our initial reports, all four crew members on board survived the crash,” said a statement. cmdr. Zach Harrell, a Naval Air Force public affairs officer.

“One of the flight crews suffered a non-life-threatening injury and was transported to a local hospital.”

The helicopter, an MH-60S Seahawk, crashed while conducting a routine training flight from Naval Air Facility El Centro, Harrell said in a later statement.

“The helicopter was assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3, based at Naval Air Station North Island, California,” he said.

An MV-22B Osprey crashed on Wednesday while on a training mission near Glamis, officials with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing said Thursday.

All five Marines aboard the Osprey tiltrotor aircraft were killed.

The aircraft was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton with Marine Aircraft Group 39 and crashed at about 12:25 PM near Coachella Canal Road and Highway 78.

Contrary to social media posts and early radio calls from emergency services, there was no nuclear material on board, Cpl. Sarah Marshall, a spokesman for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, said Wednesday.

Military personnel are recovering debris from the crash and an investigation into the cause is underway.

The Osprey can take off and land like a helicopter and fly like an airplane by spinning its rotors.

Its proponents claimed the Osprey would revolutionize warfare because of its tiltrotor capabilities, but it became embroiled in scandal during testing after a series of fatal crashes.

In addition to those lost in the Osprey crash, another member of the military died this month in a plane crash in Southern California. US Navy pilot, Lt. Richard Bullock, was killed on June 3 when his F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed in the desert, in the Trona area.

Spurred on by a series of crashes that have killed at least six servicemen and injured at least four since March, Congress may tighten requirements on the military’s security reporting, Defense One, a military news site, said.

The news site said the recent series of crashes was similar to some that prompted congressional action in 2018. After the Osprey crash this week, the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Readiness began discussing that the deputy secretary of state for Defense was required to report annually on findings of a joint aviation security council that the Pentagon has not yet established, Defense One reported.

Times staff writer Nathan Solis contributed to this report.

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