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    US Navy SeaRanger Makes Emergency Landing in Florida

    A US Navy Bell TH-57 SeaRanger training helicopter from Whiting Field Naval Air Station made an emergency landing late Wednesday afternoon in Molino, Florida.

    A warning light in the aircraft prompted the pilot to make a controlled landing in a field next to Highway 97 across from Molino Park Elementary School. There were no injuries to the helicopter crew.

    A US Navy SeaRanger landed next to Highway 97 in Molino Florida Wednesday afternoon in response to a technical warning

    A witness said the helicopter made what appeared to be an ordinary, controlled approach and landing in the field.

    A truck and trailer from Whiting Field was dispatched to recover the aircraft and personnel.

  • #2
    Operation Enduring Freedom

    About 160 Marines and Navy personnel in North Carolina are heading overseas to support military operations in southwest Asia.

    The Daily News of Jacksonville reported that a Marine light attack helicopter squadron and an aviation logistics squadron deployed late last week from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.

    Members of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467 take off in a UH-1Y Venom at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., April 21, 2014. The flight crew conducted visual and instrument flight rules flying to gain trust in their equipment. This type of flying improves the pilots as a whole by allowing the squadron to operate in all-weather conditions. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua R. Heins)​

    The newspaper reported that the unit is scheduled to be the last one to deploy as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

    Helicopter squadron 467 is to provide offensive air support and other services for a Marine task force in the region.

    The unit is to return to North Carolina in the winter.

    AN Note: Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467 (HMLA-467) is a United States Marine Corps helicopter squadron consisting of AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopters and UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters. The squadron, nicknamed the "Sabers", is based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina and falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 29 (MAG-29) and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (2nd MAW). The squadron's aircraft markings are grey & white stripes on the aircraft tail to replicate the tail markings on a Diamondback Rattlesnake and the markings on the lighthouses in North Carolina.


    • #3
      TH-57 SeaRanger Down: Florida

      A flight instructor and student sustained minor injuries Thursday morning after their helicopter crashed during a training flight in the Florida panhandle, a Navy spokeswoman said.

      The Marine Corps captain and Navy ensign trainee collided with trees when their TH-57 Sea Ranger helicopter went down in Outlying Landing Field Spencer at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Pace, Florida, Naval Air Training Command spokeswoman Lt. Brynn Olson told Navy Times.​

      ​TH-57 SeaRanger

      They were treated at a local hospital and released on Thursday, Olson said. There are no groundings in place, she said, but that field was shut down for the day.

      “Following the incident, we went ahead and used the other outlying fields,” she said.

      An investigation in the crash will start right away, Olson said. The incident comes just a month after a T-34C Turbomentor crashed off the coast of Texas, the Navy’s 10th major aviation mishap of the fiscal year.

      Naval Air Forces boss Vice Adm. David Buss ordered a tactical pause following that incident.

      “... I ask each of you to review the details of the 10 Class Alpha mishaps this fiscal year and find the threads that make sense to your squadrons depending on the phase of the [Fleet Readiness Training Plan] that they are in,” Buss wrote in a message to squadron commanders, obtained by Navy Times.

      The Thursday morning helo crash was the second mishap in 24 hours for the Navy, after an F/A-18E Super Hornet plunged into the Pacific Ocean while trying to land on the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson on Wednesday night. The pilot was unharmed.


      • #4
        Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 774 Get Their Feet Wet in Desert

        The rotors chomp through a screen of dust as the CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter leaps into the sky to conduct an area familiarization of Twentynine Palms as part of Integrated Training Exercise 4-14 on June 8, 2014.

        The pilots and Marines with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 774, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Forces Reserve, deep in austere desert and surrounded by more than 100 square miles of barren training area, shook off the year-old rust to refresh their piloting proficiency.

        ITX 4-14, the largest Marine Corps Reserve training exercise with more than 4,000 Marines and sailors participating from units across the United States, focuses on aggregating forces from all over the nation for two weeks to train. This helps demonstrate the ability to rapidly assemble and employ the Marine Air-Ground Task Force for global contingency operations.

        Staff Sgt. Paul Wood, a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter crew chief with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 774, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Forces Reserve, sits in the helicopter as it prepares to take off during an area familiarization flight as part of Integrated Training Exercise 4-14 here June 7, 2014. The flight was the first flight operation during the two-week exercise and the first time the pilots had flown in a desert environment since last year’s ITX. ITX is the largest Marine Corps Reserve training exercise with more than 4,000 Marines and sailors participating from units across the United States. The exercise focuses on the tactical application of combined-arms during global contingencies

        The area familiarization was the first flight operation during the two-week exercise and the first time the pilots had flown in a desert environment since last year’s ITX.

        “The crawl–walk-run methodology was used for today, being the first day of flight (operations) during the exercise,” said Capt. Stacy Martinez, a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter pilot with HMM-774. “(The pilots) had to practice landing on the unimproved surface before we conduct training with Marines in the back of the bird.”

        A CH-46E Sea Knight belonging to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 774, Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va., during desert exercises

        Taking off and landing in a desert environment introduces the pilots to many new and unfamiliar obstacles. The unit is based out of Norfolk, Virginia, where the training areas have improved surfaces such as flat ground and solid pavement.

        “Generally, back at Norfolk, our landings are on solid ground, whether it is a flight line or a grassy field,” said Martinez. “Everything is a perishable skill. Just because we did it last year doesn’t mean that we can do it smoothly today.”

        The differences between the two training areas are night and day to the pilots. The Sea Knights kick up pounds of dust while landing in the harsh unimproved desert, blocking the pilot’s view of the landing area.

        “This area is drier, dustier and much harder to see than where we normally train,” said Lance Cpl. John Buckly, a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter crew chief with HMM-774. “The pilots have to rely on the other Marines in the aircraft to watch for obstacles blocking the (landing zone).”

        As battalions and squadrons progress through the training, they are required to integrate together as a cohesive team though shared planning, briefing, rehearsals, execution and debriefing. This interaction builds inherent understanding that Marines must possess in order to fight as a complete MAGTF.


        • #5
          Miracle in the Gulf of Aden

          Twenty-five service personnel (17 Marines and and 8 US Navy sailors) escaped serious injury when a US Marine Corps Super Stallion crashed in the Gulf of Aden today (1st September). The CH-53E heavy lift helicopter was traveling from a training site in Djibouti to the USS Mesa Verde when it ditched, evidently near to (or approaching) the Mesa Verde.

          Everyone on board was rescued with three personnel suffering minor injuries.

          The Super Stallion was on assignment in the Gulf from its home base at Camp Lejune in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
          While in the Gulf it was assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.

          A US Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion has ditched in the Gulf of Aden today. Mercifully there were only minor injuries and no loss of life

          "The crash was not a result of hostile activity" said the US Naval Forces Command.

          Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the USS Mesa Verde (an amphibious transport dock ship based at Norfolk in Virginia) into the Persian Gulf earlier this summer as concern grew over the Islamic State terrorist group's advance on Iraq's capital, Baghdad.

          A US Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion on approach to the USS Mesa Verde

          The cause of the crash is to be investigated.


          • #6
            MH-53E Sea Dragon: Questions of Safety?

            A month ago, when the US Navy released one of its investigations into a crash that killed three sailors, an official said the service remained "absolutely confident" in the safety of the Sea Dragon, its oldest helicopter.

            An internal Navy review of the crash suggests otherwise.

            The confidential safety investigation report, obtained by The Virginian-Pilot, says a full risk analysis is needed to ensure the aging MH-53E Sea Dragon fleet is safe to fly for another decade.

            The report is also critical of the three-star command responsible for developing, equipping and maintaining all Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, including the Sea Dragon.

            The MH-53E has become the subject of concern regarding safety in a new US Navy report

            The Navy does not typically release post-crash safety investigations, which are prepared by a panel of aviation officers known as an aircraft mishap board. The Navy considers safety reports a form of internal communication, exempting most of their findings from public records disclosures.

            Navy officials declined to discuss the findings in the report, which still must be endorsed by officers up the chain of command and is subject to change.

            Finalized or not, the document reveals internal Navy concerns about the long-term viability of the service's most crash-prone helicopter.

            The Jan. 8 accident off the coast of Virginia Beach was the latest in a string of mishaps involving Sea Dragons. Investigators traced the crash to a wiring bundle that had been chafing against a worn-out gas line inside the helicopter's cabin. The tattered wire released an electrical arc that connected with fuel, igniting an uncontrollable fire. The blaze filled the cabin with thick smoke and flames, blinding the pilots and causing the helicopter to crash tail-first into the ocean. Three of the five crew members died.

            After the crash, the chafing problem - which had never come up during the helicopter's three decades in service - was discovered in all of the Navy's remaining 29 Sea Dragons, revealing that each was at risk of a similar catastrophe.

            The Navy announced last month that it had fixed worn wires and fuel lines across its fleet of Sea Dragons shortly after the crash, and it said it is developing new inspection standards to check for future wiring problems. The safety investigation authors said those measures should help prevent a repeat of the same malfunction.

            They also sounded an ominous warning: "The discovery of this defect is a leading indicator that other age-related discrepancies that could lead to loss of aircraft and crew in the future may be present."

            In other words, while the Navy has fixed the wiring problem that caused this crash, it's possible there are other potentially lethal problems with the aircraft that have not been discovered.

            The safety report calls for "a thorough risk analysis" to determine whether other aging components are at risk of unexpected failure.

            The Navy doesn't have a plan to replace the Sea Dragon - the military's only helicopter powerful enough to tow a massive mine-sweeping sled through water. Originally slated for retirement a decade ago, the helicopters are expected to remain in service through 2025. The Navy already is having trouble finding replacement parts, many of which are no longer manufactured.

            A separate crash investigation the service released last month pointed to the same cause - electrical wires rubbing against a fuel line. That report, known as a judge advocate manual investigation, cited no individuals or commands for actions or inactions contributing to the January crash. And other than calling for more thorough wiring inspections, it made no recommendations about the future of the Sea Dragon program.

            The authors of the safety report were more critical. They faulted Naval Air Systems Command, headquartered in Patuxent River, Md., for failing to develop regular maintenance procedures to check for chafing wires.

            The safety investigation "revealed no required maintenance to the suspect wire bundle or fuel transfer line," they wrote. Even when the helicopters were sent to the Navy's fleet readiness center in Cherry Point, N.C., for more intensive maintenance, there was no requirement that wires or fuel lines be checked for chafing.

            Further, the safety report's authors found, the routing of wires so near a fuel line runs counter to Naval Air Systems Command's own wiring manual. But because the manual gives blanket priority to original manufacture specifications - and because the suspect wiring matched Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation's 1970s Sea Dragon design drawings - the questionable placement of the wiring bundle near a fuel line went unscrutinized.

            This minor design flaw, the report noted, was exacerbated by decades of wear and tear.

            "While this bundle routing may have posed minimal risk early in the service life of the MH-53E... it poses a significant risk in an aging airframe," the report said.

            Improved maintenance procedures are necessary but not sufficient to eliminate the risk of future fires, the mishap board wrote. It called on Naval Air Systems Command to move wires to ensure they don't come into contact with "critical aircraft components," especially fuel lines. That step, the report said, "is necessary to prevent catastrophic chafing between maintenance intervals."

            Citing the "need to maintain the integrity" of the ongoing safety investigation process, a spokeswoman for Naval Air Systems Command wouldn't say whether the command plans to conduct a risk analysis for other age-related problems in the helicopters, or if it intends to move wires away from critical components.

            Cmdr. Mike Kafka, a spokesman for Naval Air Force Atlantic in Norfolk, said he couldn't discuss the pending safety report findings, but he emphasized that the Navy is "taking a variety of steps to ensure the long-term viability" of the Sea Dragon program.

            After a deadly crash in 2012 revealed significant maintenance and leadership failures, the Navy acknowledged it had neglected the Sea Dragon community and spent millions of dollars in the hopes of turning things around.

            Before the January crash, it upgraded the aircraft with night vision technology and new sensors to better detect mechanical failures. It added dozens of maintenance personnel. It beefed up pilot training. It began the process of making sure all the helicopters are equipped for the core mine-clearing mission.

            In addition to new wiring inspections initiated since then, the Navy is working on additional measures "to address issues related to the aging of the airframe," Kafka said. Those plans have not been finalized, he said.

            The Sea Dragons - based only at Norfolk Naval Station and two overseas posts - were grounded immediately following the January crash. Most of the helicopters began flying training missions again a few weeks later, once the wires and fuel lines were fixed.

            Later this month, a few of the Sea Dragons are expected to participate in an international mine-clearing exercise in the Persian Gulf.

            In their final recommendation, the safety report's authors called for their findings to be shared with every helicopter squadron in the Navy, not just the Sea Dragons. They concluded by saying, regardless of what the Navy is doing to improve maintenance, it is the responsibility of pilots, aircrew and maintainers to thoroughly inspect helicopters before take off.

            "If something doesn't look right, ask questions and demand answers," the safety report said. "If guidance is unclear, ask questions and demand answers."


            • #7

              Blue Hawks Home

              Sailors from one guided-missile destroyer came home to San Diego Monday following a seven-month deployment, while the crew of another was poised to head out.

              The 300 sailors of the USS Wayne E. Meyer returned from an independent deployment to the western Pacific Ocean, along with a detachment of "Blue Hawks" from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 78, based in Coronado.

              An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter lifts off from the guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) for a torpedo training exercise during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2014

              The 509-foot-long vessel maintained the Navy's presence in the region, and the sailors took part in several community relations projects at different ports-of-call.

              The ship is named for the late Rear Adm. Wayne E. Meyer, considered the father of the Navy's Aegis air defense system.

              The Blue Hawks flew more than 820 hours with two MH-60R aircraft in missions like anti-submarine warfare, medical evacuations and supply replenishments. They also participated in several international exercises.

              This afternoon, the USS Milius will head out for an exercise that will involve vessels from Canada and Japan, and continue on for its own western Pacific deployment.

              The Navy announced last week that the 505-foot Milius is one of two San Diego-based vessels that will be transferred to Yokosuka, Japan. The Navy has been gradually rotating ships that have recently been overhauled and received technological improvements into the Asian theater.

              The Milius is scheduled to move to Japan in just under three years. The USS Benfold is set to go next summer.

              The Milius is named for Navy Capt. Paul L. Milius, who ordered his seven fellow crew members to bail out as he held their badly damaged aircraft steady before it crashed over Laos in 1968. All seven were later rescued, but Milius was declared missing in action.

              His body never recovered and he was later presumed killed in action. The aircraft was damaged by enemy fire. Milius was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously in 1978.


              • #8

                Bold Alligator 2014

                A US Navy Seahawk helicopter lands aboard the Royal Netherlands Navy amphibious ship 'Johan de Witt' off the coast of Virginia during exercise Bold Alligator 2014

                Bold Alligator is a multinational littoral warfare exercise hosted by the United States. It has been held annually since 2011. In 2012, it involved 14,000 marines, sailors, airmen and soldiers, encompassing more than 25 ships and involving eleven countries, with Canada, Mexico, UK, France, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, and other allied nations participating at sea, on land, and in the air, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and in Virginia.


                • #9
                  USMC Wants More Mi-24's

                  The US Marine Corps is looking into whether a contractor might be able to supply Mi-24 Hind gunship or Mi-17 Hip armed transport helicopters to add extra realism to various exercises. Outside companies routinely provide these types of helicopters to play mock enemies at a number of US military training events, but this kind of “adversary” support could become even more relevant as American forces across the services refocus on preparing for high-end conflicts against “great power” opponents, such as Russia.

                  On April 26, 2018, the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, or MAGTFTC, posted a draft set of requirements on the U.S. government’s main contracting website, FedBizOpps, with the goal of determining whether there were any vendors who might be able to provide the desired training support. The draft documents call for two Mi-24 or Mi-17 helicopters to be available for at least five Integrated Training Exercises (ITX) annually at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, or MCAGCC, in Twentynine Palms, California.

                  The US Marine Corps are seeking more Mi-24's for their combat training operations

                  The proposed contract would include an option for the Marines to send those aircraft to five Mountain Training Exercises (MTX) at the Mountain Warfare Training Center near Bridgeport, California, as well as two Talon Exercises (TALONEX), one each at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona and Twentynine Palms. The TALONEXs occur concurrently with Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) course capstone exercises.

                  The Russian-made Mi-24 and Mi-17 are extremely popular among military and paramilitary forces around the world, large and small, and are among the most likely hostile helicopters Marines might face in any real-world conflict. The massive Hind also has an often overlooked secondary troop-carrying capability in addition to its array of forward-firing machine guns, automatic cannons, rockets, and anti-tank missiles, making it a potentially more complex threat. There is an additional potential option for the contractor to provide a single An-2 Colt biplane – an obsolete, but still potentially dangerous platform you can read about more in depth here – for the pair of TALONEXs, as well.

                  It’s no surprise the Marine Corps wants these exercises to be as realistic as possible in order to both prepare Marines for potential real-world combat situations and to provide an accurate assessment of their skills. The so-called “opposing force,” or OPFOR, is critical to providing this experience.

                  And private “red air” adversaries have been gaining traction as useful and cost-effective dissimilar opponents for aerial warfare exercises for some time and it makes sense to employ similar aggressors for air-and-ground training, too. Contractor-operated Mi-24s and Mi-17s, such as Hinds from VTS Aviation in Tacoma, Washington, have made regular appearances at WTI Course events, among other training exercises, for more than a decade for exactly this reason. Having this kind of support on call for more routine exercises can only help improve the quality of training across the Corps.