Editor’s Noted: As we reported previously, a very sophisticated U.S. Army reconnaissance aircraft crash landed near Irbil in northern Iraq two days ago. Photographs and video from the scene showed the highly-modified Beech KingAir 350 in a field, surrounded by what appeared to be U.S. Special Operations Forces. We have learned the rescue was executed by U.S. Navy MH-60 helicopters carrying U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen, or PJs.
Navy helicopters carrying Air Force para-rescuemen carried out a combat search and rescue mission for an Army reconnaissance plane that made a hard emergency landing in Iraq on Saturday, securing the site and providing some medical aid to those involved, the Navy’s top admiral said Tuesday.
The mission was launched from the city of Irbil in northern Iraq, the Navy’s chief of naval operations, Adm. John Richardson, said in a phone interview. He was returning from a trip to the Middle East that included stops in Bahrain, Iraq and Qatar.
“It just so happened that there was a rescue mission this past Saturday, where they got the call to help out the crew from a downed aircraft,” Richardson said. “All that training paid off. They were up, airborne and at the location of the accident within four minutes of the alert. That was pretty good timing.”
Richardson said the first priority was to get the crew out of the aircraft, and then to secure a perimeter. As noted in a Checkpoint piece Saturday, the plane had the tail number N6351V, which is registered to the U.S. Army, according to an online registry run by the Federal Aviation Administration. A military document posted online suggests the small plane is outfitted with advanced sensors that are part of the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System, or EMARSS.
The U.S. military said in a statement that the plane conducted an “off-airport emergency landing in a field northwest of Irbil.” Richardson said the helicopters that responded are part of a detachment based in Irbil that is from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 5, of Naval Station Naval Station Norfolk, Va. Other parts of the squadron are with the USS Harry S. Truman, an aircraft carrier that is currently deployed off the coast of Iraq in the Persian Gulf.
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(Featured photo courtesy of Veterans Today)