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Search Underway For Five U.S. Marines Aboard Crashed CH-53E Helicopter

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CH-53E
File photo of a U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Federico Marquez)

The U.S. Marine Corps is searching for five U.S. Marines assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, aboard a CH-53E Super Stallion whose wreckage was located east of San Diego.

The wreckage of a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter that went went missing during a training flight from Creech Air Force Base to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar late on Feb. 6, 2024, was located by civil authorities in Pine Valley, California, after an overnight search in the mountainous area about 35 miles east of San Diego, at 9:08 AM PST on Feb. 7, 2024.

Five Marines were aboard the heavy-lift cargo helicopter. The service is still searching for the aircrew, as the area is experiencing a winter storm that has produced heavy rain several inches of snow to the mountains.

The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing is managing search and rescue efforts through the Wing Operations Command Center and using ground and aviation assets to locate the aircrew in coordination with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and multiple federal, state and local agencies.

Thanks to its impressive lift capacity the Super Stallion is able to carry a 26,000-pound Light Armored Vehicle, 16 tons of cargo 50 miles and back, or enough Marines to lead and assault or humanitarian operation. For this reason it is used for a wide variety of tasks.

The latest version of the iconic CH-53, designed CH-53K King Stallion, will replace the current E variant in the coming years and will feature a lift capacity three times that of the Super Stallion retaining the same size of its predecessor.

In 2016, two CH-53E Super Stallions conducting night ops off the Hawaiian island of Oahu, collided killing 12 Marines. In 2018, four crew members were killed when a CH-53E crashed during a training mission near El Centro, California.

This is a developing story we will be update the article as new details become available.

David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.





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