News Briefs – March 16, 2018

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F/A-18F crashes off coast of Florida

An F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed on final approach to Boca Chica Field, Naval Air Station, Key West, Fla., at approximately 4:30 p.m., EDT, March 14.

Search and rescue crews were notified shortly after the crash where they recovered both the pilot and weapons systems officer from the water approximately one mile east of the runway. Both were taken by ambulance to Lower Keys Medical Center.

Both aviators have been declared deceased. Per Department of Defense policy, the names of the aviators are being withheld until 24 hours after next-of-kin notification.

The F/A-18F is a dual-seated aircraft assigned to the “Black Lions” of Strike Fighter Squadron Two One Three(VFA-213), based at Naval Air Station Oceana and was conducting a training flight.

The cause of the mishap is currently under investigation.
 

Under Secretary checks in on progress of KC-46

Under Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan visited the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus production and modification facility in Everett, Wash., March 14, 2018, after the latest announcement of a further delay in the first aircraft delivery to the Air Force.

“I’ve been the guy that shows up behind a tanker in a single seat aircraft, low on fuel, 500 miles above the Arctic Circle, 800 miles out over the North Atlantic, or in hostile areas such as over Iraq,” Donovan said. “Air refueling is a no-fail mission.”

The KC-46A will bring enhanced capabilities and increased operational effectiveness to the Air Force’s tanker fleet.

“While Boeing has built a superb capability in the KC-46A, we need them to double down on providing the necessary resources and engineering talent to push the last ten yards and get this program over the goal line,” Donovan said. “At the same time, the Air Force must ensure we also provide the necessary resources and leadership to enable the success of the program and get these aircraft into the hands of the warfighter; we are in this together.”
 

Marine officer pleads guilty for failures in recruit death

A Marine Corps officer responsible for training recruits at a South Carolina base where a violently abused military volunteer committed suicide admits he’s guilty of dereliction of duty and other charges, a military spokesman said March 13.

Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon also pleaded guilty to making false official statements and conduct unbecoming an officer just before his court-martial was to begin at Quantico, Va., on March 12, Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Joshua Pena said.

Kissoon had command responsibilities at Parris Island, South Carolina, at a time that drill instructors beat, choked and kicked recruits. The abuse came to light after Raheel Siddiqui of Taylor, Michigan, fell three stories down a stairwell and died in March 2016. His death was ruled a suicide.

Siddiqui was one of the three Muslim-American recruits targeted by a drill instructor, Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix. A court-martial at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, last November found Felix abused more than a dozen recruits and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Including Felix and Kissoon, five Marines were either convicted or pleaded guilty for their roles in the Parris Island recruit abuse scandal. Others were acquitted or their cases were addressed through low-level, non-public disciplinary procedures.

Kissoon’s guilty plea specifies that he improperly assigned Felix to supervising Siddiqui’s training platoon and failed to investigate a separate report of a drill instructor possibly abusing a recruit.

The Navy judge overseeing the court-martial said the case uncovered a number of leadership failures at Parris Island, but Kissoon’s actions didn’t cause Siddiqui’s death, Kissoon’s defense attorney said Tuesday.

“He’s got 28 years in the Marine Corps before this. A completely unblemished record,” Dallas, Texas-based attorney Colby Vokey said.

Kissoon, originally from Brooklyn, New York, agreed as part of his guilty plea to retire from the Marines. He will forfeit $1,000 a month in pay for five months and allow the Navy secretary to decide his rank at retirement, which will determine the amount of pension benefits he will receive, Pena said. AP