BRAWLEY, Calif. — A Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed during night training, killing all five crew members, authorities said today. It was the latest in a series of CH-53E crashes.
The big helicopter went down on the Salton Sea Test Range about 8:30 p.m. Thursday while practicing night landings for troop deployment, said Maj. Anthony Rothfork, a Marine Corps spokesman at the Pentagon.
"It was making an approach into the landing zone when it crashed and burned," Rothfork said today.
The CH-53E was assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 at Tustin Air Station.
U.S. Rep. Robert Badham (R-Newport Beach), who last year called for a study of the CH-53E, said preliminary reports received through his staff and staff of the House Armed Services Committee "were couched in terms" indicating that there was no mechanical failure.
The three-engine helicopter is manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft Co. of Stratford, Conn., at a cost of $24 million each. It is capable of performing naval minesweeping functions, carrying 56 troops or hauling 32,000 pounds of cargo, Rothfork said.