An aircraft assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466 operating in Afghanistan recently had a hard landing, reportedly hitting the ground with enough force to crack the tail section in half. The Super Stallion was carrying 14 Marine infantrymen at the time of the incident, the Pentagon confirmed.
"The aircraft is being transported back to the United States for a Depot Engineering Assessment, which will determine the full extent of the damage," said Capt. Richard Ulsh, official spokesman for Headquarters Marine Corps. Asked whether the crash would be classified as "Class A" – more than $1 million in damages, Ulsh said, "We will not know the classification of the mishap until that assessment is completed."
A source close to the squadron who asked to remain anonymous claimed that the H-53 was in a "high hover" when it ran out of gas and fell out of the sky. Capt. Ulsh would not comment on that claim, repeating, "We need to wait until the investigation is completed."
Ulsh did say that none of the Marines in the cargo area or the aircrew were injured during the hard landing.
The damaged helicopter had been operated by the Marine Corps since 1989.
HMH-466 "The Wolfpack" is based at Bastion airfield adjacent to Camp Leatherneck in southern Afghanistan, primarily supporting operations around Helmand Province, which has been a hotbed of Taliban insurgent activity. The squadron has been in country for four months.