U.S. helicopter crash in Iraq kills 7

Thursday, February 8, 2007

A CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed in the Al-Anbar province of Iraq approximately 20 miles outside of Baghdad on Monday. The helicopter was carrying seven passengers and crew at the time of the crash. No survivors were reported at the site.

Marines load a simulated casualty onto a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter while conducting convoy operations training.

Major General William B. Caldwell, a spokesman for the U.S. military told reporters in Baghdad , "A quick-reaction force is on site and the investigation is going on as we speak." He did not specify whether mechanical failure or ground fire had brought it down.

Witnesses at the crash site report seeing gunfire from the ground. The Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group of several Sunni insurgent groups, including Al-Qaeda in Iraq, has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying one of its "air defense brigades" had shot it down.

Including Wednesday's most recent attack, the U.S. military has suffered five such helicopters crashes, resulting in the loss of 28 servicemen in the past 3 weeks. Since May 2003 the U.S. has lost 55 helicopters to mechanical failure and being shot down.

At the time of the crash the helicopter was conducting "routine operations".

In response to recent losses the U.S. military has begun to implement new changes in flight operations. Although they would not stipulate the exact changes, General Caldwell insured the military was "making adjustments in our tactics and techniques and procedures as to how we employ our helicopters".