Task and Purpose, Jared Keller
Frankly, it’s a miracle the 29-year-old flight lieutenant walked away at all.
With Marine Corps Class A aviation mishaps at a five-year high, the branch’s decision back in April to extend the life of the AV-8B Harrier attack aircraft — an about-face from an earlier 2014 replacement program despite the jump-jet’s hazard-prone record — seemed strange. But a new internal Department of Defense investigation captures the stark consequences of the accident-prone aircraft’s newfound lease on life.
On March 8, 2016, a British Royal Air Force pilot deployed with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 (reinforced) aboard the USS Kearsarge in the North Arabian Gulf narrowly escaped death when his Harrier burst into flames during takeoff, as Military.com reported at the time. But while the pilot, assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit as part of an international training exchange program, managed to walk away without a scratch, a new Pentagon investigation obtained by Military.com paints a grim picture of the incident.