Joint Military Exercise Hits Tragic Halt: Helicopter Crash Leaves Four Missing
Joint Military Exercise Hits Tragic Halt: Helicopter Crash Leaves Four Missing

Brisbane: A defence helicopter participating in the drills crashed into the Pacific Ocean, leaving four members of the aircrew missing. Australia and the United States had to halt their joint military exercise on Saturday.

The MRH-90 Taipan went down late on Friday night in subtropical waters close to Hamilton Island, Queensland, according to Australia's Defence Minister Richard Marles.

It had been taking part in the massive Talisman Sabre exercise, which includes 30,000 military members from Australia, the US, and other countries.

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After a nearly overnight search, which is scheduled to continue on Saturday, Marles said, "As we speak to you now, the four aircrew are still missing."

According to AFP, the helicopter's four crew members are all Australian.

The four aircrew members' families have been informed of the incident, and Marles continued, "Our hopes and thoughts are very much with the aircrew and their families."

"We are fervently praying for better news throughout the day." The incident, which happened as the second week of the Talisman Sabre exercise was beginning, is still under investigation by officials.

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The exercises are intended to demonstrate the power of Western military alliances while also testing large-scale logistics, land combat, amphibious landings, and air operations.

South Korea, Japan, France, and Germany are also participating.
Along with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin is in Australia for meetings related to the drills.

As US personnel assisted in the rescue effort, both men offered their assistance.
When you have accidents, it's always difficult, Austin said. But ultimately, you train to such a high standard to be able to save lives.
The military drills, which are scheduled to end on August 4, are not yet known if they will continue.

To keep potential enemies like China at bay, Australia is currently undertaking a significant overhaul of its armed forces and shifting towards long-range strike capabilities.

Canberra had already made the announcement to replace its fleet of outdated Taipan helicopters with US-made Black Hawks prior to the incident.

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Australian officials have expressed dissatisfaction over having to frequently ground the Taipans made in Europe, citing challenges with maintenance and obtaining replacement parts.

"We simply don't have the necessary number of flying hours out of the Taipan. We are confident that the Black will provide that for us.

Marles made this statement in January. During a nighttime training exercise in March, an MRH-90 Taipan south of Sydney experienced engine failure, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing in the ocean.
The entire Taipan fleet was grounded for a month, but they managed to survive with only minor injuries.

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