Military Training: Observations on Efforts to Prepare Personnel to Survive Helicopter Crashes into Water
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE WASHINGTON DC
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Although military helicopter water crashes are rare, when they do occur they often result in casualties. From 2003 through 2013, the Department of Defense DOD recorded 22 crashes of military helicopters into the water, resulting in 55 fatalities and 22 injuries. Specifically, the Army reported 8 water crashes resulting in 14 fatalities and 7 injuries, the Navy reported 8 crashes resulting in 18 fatalities and 10 injuries, and the Marine Corps reported 6 crashes resulting in 23 fatalities and 5 injuries. Each military service and U.S. Special Operations Command SOCOM1 requires its personnel to complete helicopter water-egress training to teach personnel to escape from helicopters that crash in water. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and SOCOM each operate their own training program.2 The Marine Corps requires its pilots and crew members to complete the Navy s water-egress training. Prior to 1999, the Navy provided training for all the military services, but due to scheduling conflicts and a desire to reduce travel costs, the Army, Air Force, and SOCOM developed their own programs, as shown in figure 1.
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