Marine Corps considers temporarily grounding all aircraft following deadly crashes

Riccardo Niccoli/Stocktrek Images/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of two deadly aviation crashes in the last month, the Marine Corps is considering grounding all Marine fixed wing and rotary aircraft for a day to reinforce proper procedures among pilots and air crews, according to a defense official.

Lt. Gen. Steven R. Rudder, the Marine Corps deputy commandant for aviation, is considering the move, which could be announced as early as Tuesday.

The defense official said the 24-hour stand-down would affect all Marine flying squadrons worldwide and would reinforce proper flight training procedures for Marine pilots and air crews.

The possibility of a grounding comes days after three Marines died when an MV-22 Osprey crashed into the waters off the coast of Australia as it attempted to land on the amphibious ship USS Green Bay. Efforts to recover the remains of the three Marines continue. An additional 23 Marines aboard the tilt-rotor aircraft were rescued after the Osprey went down.

On July 10, 15 Marines and a Navy corpsman were killed when a KC-130T transport aircraft crashed into a field in central Mississippi. Early indications are that the aircraft may have experienced problems while flying at cruising altitude. As a protective measure, the Navy and Marine Corps grounded all 35 of their KC-130T aircraft until further notice while that crash remains under investigation.

Safety stand-downs of particular Marine aircraft are not unusual.

Last August, the Marine Corps ordered a similar safety stand-down for all non-deployed F/A-18 fighter aircraft following a series of fatal crashes involving F/A-18s.

At the time, squadron commanders were given seven days to carry out the 24-hour stand-down, which only affected non-deployed Marine aircraft.

Last September, all Marine AV-8 Harrier fighters in Japan were temporarily grounded after one of the aircraft crashed into the sea 100 miles off the coast of Japan. The pilot survived the crash.

The Marine Corps in recent years has experienced a decline in readiness of its aging fleet of aircraft. That, in turn, has impacted available training hours and the number of aircraft able to fly at any given time.

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