3 Airmen Die After SpecOps Plane Crashes in New Mexico


Three U.S. airmen were killed after a U-28 single-engine turboprop aircraft crashed during a training flight in New Mexico, Air Force officials announced Wednesday.

The airmen were assigned to the 318th Special Operations Squadron, an operational flying squadron part the 27th Special Operations Wing, Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The crash occurred one quarter-mile east of Clovis Municipal Airport at 6:50 p.m. on Tuesday, according to a release from the base. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

"We are deeply saddened by this loss within our Air Commando family," Col. Ben Maitre, the installation commander, said in a release. "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," he said.

The Air Force said identities of the aircrew are being withheld until their family members have been notified.

The 318th was activated in 2008 under Air Force Special Operations Command to provide "battlefield mobility for our special operations forces," according to then-Col. Timothy Leahy, the former wing commander. The unit is tasked to "fly a variety of light and medium aircraft known as Non-Standard Aviation," according to a service release. The squadron operates PC-12 aircraft -- designated as the U-28A in the Air Force -- for intra-theater airlift missions, the release said.

The U-28A is operated by the 319th, 34th and 318th Special Operations squadrons, according to the Air Force. Training is conducted by the 5th and 19th Special Operations squadron. The units are located at Cannon and Hurlburt Field, Florida.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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