Black Hawk crash kills five troops in Kandahar
A helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan has killed five American service members, officials said March 12.
The March 11 crash brought the total number of U.S. troops killed that day to seven, making it the deadliest day for U.S. forces so far this year. Two U.S. special operations forces were gunned down hours earlier in an insider attack by an Afghan policeman in eastern Afghanistan.
The NATO military coalition said in a statement that “initial reports” showed no enemy activity in the area at the time. The cause of the crash is under investigation, the statement said.
A U.S. official said all five of the dead were American. The official said the helicopter went down outside Kandahar city, the capital of Kandahar province. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the information had not been formally released.
Their deaths make 12 U.S. troops killed so far this year in Afghanistan. There were 297 U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan in 2012, according to an Associated Press tally. AP
Two space launch workers hurt in blast at Ca. base
Two workers for a company that launches spacecraft for the U.S. government were seriously injured in an electrical explosion at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast.
The United Launch Alliance said in a statement that the two employees were transferred ZMarch 11 to a Los Angeles hospital that specializes in treating burn victims.
The Santa Maria Times reports that the two, whose names and exact jobs have not been released, were working Saturday at Space Launch Complex 6 where a Delta 4 rocket is being prepared for an August launch when an “arc flash” occurred.
Occupational safety officials say an arc flash happens when electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air to another conductor.
ULA gave no further details on the cause or circumstances. AP
South Korea, U.S. begin drills amid NKorean nuke threat
South Korea and the United States are staging annual military drills that North Korea says it will respond to by scrapping the armistice that ended the Korean War and launching a nuclear attack on the U.S.
After the March 11 start of the drills involving 10,000 South Korean and 3,500 American troops, Pyongyang reportedly followed through on an earlier vow to cut off a hotline with the South.
Pyongyang has launched a bombast filled propaganda campaign against the drills and last week’s U.N. vote to impose new sanctions over the North’s Feb. 12 nuclear test.
Pyongyang has vowed before to scrap the 1953 armistice. But recent rhetoric has been more warlike than usual. Pyongyang isn’t believed to be able to build a warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile. AP
Defense cuts may affect Air Force museum in Ohio
A general says automatic defense budget cuts will slow research and technology development and cancel some special night and weekend events at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Ohio.
Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger leads the Air Force Materiel Command from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. She tells the Dayton Daily News the cuts likely will delay aircraft replacement and modernization, halt most flight testing and create a backlog in maintenance operations.
The command employs roughly 80,000 people at nine bases. About three-quarters are civilians who may be forced to take 22 days of unpaid leave.
The command is planning for $1.4 billion in cuts, though the exact amount isn’t clear. The reductions are part of $85 billion in government-wide spending cuts that took effect March 1. AP