Lance Cpl. Kieran Hayes, a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, waits for a Sikorsky to get in position. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps
The U.S. Marine Corps is grounding Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallions in Japan following the emergency landing of that aircraft type Wednesday, according to the III Marine Expeditionary Force. The force’s commanding general, Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, directed a 96-hour “operational pause” Thursday morning for all CH-53Es stationed in Okinawa.
According to the Marine Corps, the pause is to ensure aircraft “readiness and the safe conduct of our aviation community.” The force plans to conduct an investigation in close collaboration with aircrew and maintenance experts to determine the cause of the incident. It is working with Japanese agencies to clean up and remove the aircraft. The force said it is in the process of conducting an initial survey at the scene “to determine the most viable platform and method of aircraft recovery.”
The Sikorsky aircraft caught fire during a training exercise, according to multiple news reports. It then made the emergency landing near the U.S. Northern Training Area on Okinawa. There were reportedly no injuries.