Two Marine Helicopters Crash in Arizona

Yuma, Arizona – Seven marines were killed during the collision of two helicopters while training over the California-Arizona dessert on Wednesday night. It is considered one of the deadliest crashes in Marine Corps history.

The two helicopters – an AH-1W Cobra and UH-1 Huey – were conducting routine exercises in the sprawling dessert because it resembles the harsh environment of Afghanistan. The accident occurred near the Chocolate Mountains in the Califronia-Arizona dessert. Marine officials are still conducting an investigation on the cause of the accident.

Five marines were aboard the UH-1W Huey while two were manning the AH-1W Cobra. The Ah-1W Cobra is the Marine Corps main attack helicopter. It carries a pilot and a gunner. The UH-1W Huey is a utility aircraft and carries one or two pilots, a crew chief and a number of crew members depending on the mission. The troops involved in the exercise were set to be deployed in Afghanistan.

“It’s an unfortunate consequence of the high tempo of operations,” said retired Marine Col. J.F. Joseph, an aviation safety consultant. “They’re out there working on the edge trying to exploit the maximum capabilities of the aircraft and their tactics. Just by the virtue of that, in becoming combat ready, these unfortunately are not uncommon occurrences.”

Six of the marines were from Camp Pendleton, the largest base on the West Coast. The last marine was from the base in Yuma. Troops in Camp Pendleton were greatly affected by the incident and marine chaplains were sent to counsel the troops.

source: http://www.miamiherald.com, http://www.mydesert.com

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