Three members of the Air Force’s 318th Special Operations Squadron, part of the 27th Special Operations Wing were killed on Tuesday night in a plane crash in Clovis, NM.
The training flight of a U-28A took off from Cannon AFB and crashed about three miles from Cannon and a quarter mile east of Clovis Municipal Airport. The single engine, reconnaissance, and surveillance plane crew that died in the crash have not been identified pending notification of next of kin.
The last deadly crash involving a U-28A occurred in Africa in 2012 as the plane was returning from an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission for the war in Afghanistan. Four airmen were killed.
An Air Force fact sheet says the U-28A is used for tactical airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in support of special operations forces. The plane typically has a four-member crew of two pilots, a combat systems officer and a tactical systems officer.
According to the fact sheet, the U-28A “evolved from commercially available aircraft that were purchased and then modified with communications gear, aircraft survivability equipment, electro-optical sensors, and advanced navigation systems.”
While the cause of the crash is under investigation, the Commander of Cannon AFB, Col. Ben Maitre said it was too early to speculate. There was no evidence of any mechanical failures and the weather on Tuesday night was clear.
Investigators were looking at the aircraft’s maintenance records on Wednesday in search of a possible cause. Air Force spokesman categorize the U-28A as a reliable airframe that is used for personnel transport, combat support, aerial refueling of helicopters, close air support and drone operations.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss within our Air Commando family,” Maitre said. “Our sympathies are with the loved ones and friends affected by this tragedy, and our team is focused on supporting them during this difficult time.”
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Photo courtesy US Air Force
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