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American Forces Press Service

Mechanical Failure Suspected in Most Recent Iraq Chopper Crash

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2007 – A Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter that went down in Iraq’s Anbar province Feb. 7 most likely experienced a mechanical failure, the director of operations for the Joint Staff told Pentagon reporters today.

Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said early indications show the crash, which killed seven crewmembers and passengers, resulted from a mechanical malfunction.

Lute said eyewitness accounts factored with considerations about the type of aircraft, its flight pattern and other early indicators, led to that conclusion. “So the response of the aircraft leads the people on the ground to believe, early in the investigation, that it was mechanical,” he said.

The crash was the latest of six involving helicopters in Iraq recently, four of them U.S. military helicopters and two contractor helicopters.

Of these, Lute said, four appear to be attributable to enemy fire -- two while in close contact with the enemy and another two when not in enemy contact.

Another incident, involving a contractor aircraft, is likely the result of pilot error and involved a wire strike, he said.

Lute said it’s too soon to tell if the crashes that resulted from enemy activity indicate any change in enemy capabilities. At this point, he said, there’s no definite evidence that missiles were involved in the surface-to-air fire that likely brought down the four helicopters.

Other recent crashes of military helicopters include:

--A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed northeast of Baghdad on Jan. 20. Four crewmembers and eight others soldiers aboard as passengers were killed in the incident.

-- A Multinational Division Baghdad helicopter crashed north of Najaf on Jan. 28, killing two U.S. soldiers.

-- A U.S. Army helicopter crashed north of Baghdad on Feb. 2. Two crew members were killed in that crash.

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