Four air crew members are missing after an Australian army helicopter ditched into waters off the Queensland state coast throughout joint army workouts with the United States
The MRH-90 Taipan helicopter went down close to Lindeman Island, a Great Barrier Reef vacationer resort, at about 11 p.m. Friday, train director Australian Army Brigadier Damian Hill mentioned.
A search involving U.S., Canadian and Australian personnel was underway to search out the crew who are all Australian males, officers mentioned.
Debris that gave the impression to be from a helicopter had been recovered, Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Douglas McDonald mentioned.
The Taipan was collaborating in Talisman Sabre, a biennial joint U.S.-Australian army train that’s largely based mostly in Queensland. This yr’s train includes 13 nations and greater than 30,000 army personnel.
Defense Minister Richard Marles mentioned the helicopter ditched, which refers to an emergency touchdown on water.
“Defense exercises, which are so necessary for the readiness of our defense force, are serious. They carry risk,” Marles informed reporters in Brisbane. “As we desperately hope for higher information throughout the course of today we are reminded about the gravity of the act which comes with sporting our nation’s uniform.”
Hill mentioned the train was postponed on Saturday morning however had restarted restricted exercise later in the day. Australia had grounded its Taipan fleet as a precaution, Hill mentioned.
It was the second emergency involving an Australian Taipan this yr, after one ditched into the sea off the New South Wales state coast in March. That helicopter was collaborating in a nighttime counterterrorism coaching train when it bumped into hassle. All 10 passengers and crew members had been rescued.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was in Brisbane for a gathering on Saturday and is because of journey with Marles to north Queensland on Sunday to see the train.
Austin and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken paid tribute to the missing air crew at the outset of a gathering with their Australian counterparts, Marles and Foreign Minister Penny Wong.
“It’s at all times powerful when you’ve got accidents in coaching, however … the purpose that we practice to such excessive requirements is in order that we may be profitable and we will shield lives once we are referred to as to reply any type of disaster,” Austin mentioned.
“Our guys tend to make this look easy and they make it look easy because they’re so well exercised and rehearsed and trained, and this is unfortunately a part of that, what it takes to get them to where we need them to be,” Austin added.
Blinken mentioned, “We’re so grateful to them for their dedication, for their service, for everything they’ve been doing to stand up for the freedom that we share and that is what unites us more than anything else.”
Marles thanked the United States for his or her contribution to the search and rescue effort.
The missing helicopter had simply dropped off two Australian commandos earlier than it hit the water, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Australia introduced in January that its army and navy would cease flying the European-built Taipans by December 2024, 13 years sooner than initially deliberate, as a result of they’d confirmed unreliable. They will likely be changed by 40 U.S. Black Hawks. Marles mentioned at the time the Lockheed Martin-designed Black Hawks “have a really good proven track record in terms of their reliability.”
Australia’s Taipans had been affected by issues since the first helicopter arrived in the nation in 2007.
Australia’s complete fleet of 47 Taipans was grounded in 2019 to repair an issue with their tail rotor blades. A yr later, 27 Taipans had been grounded due to an issue with doorways.
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