U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,162
As of Dec. 31, 2013, at least 2,162 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.
At least 1,788 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result of hostile action, according to the military’s numbers.
Outside of Afghanistan, the department reports at least 134 more members of the U.S. military died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Of those, 11 were the result of hostile action.
The AP count of total OEF casualties outside of Afghanistan is one more than the department’s tally.
The Defense Department also counts three military civilian deaths.
Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, 19,541 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP
B-1B bomber crash was an anomaly
The crash of a B-1 bomber last August during a training exercise over southeastern Montana was an anomaly and not indicative of a bigger problem in the 30-year-old bomber fleet, an Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., leader says.
A report released earlier this week by the Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board concluded that the crash was caused by a mechanical malfunction that started a fuel leak. About 7,000 pounds of fuel leaked into the aircraft and was ignited by hot ductwork, leading to a series of detonations in the plane based at Ellsworth in southwestern South Dakota.
People on the ground who witnessed the incident said the plane broke apart in midair, scattering debris over several miles of ranchland. The four crew members safely ejected and escaped serious injury. No one on the ground was hurt.
“The investigation did not attribute the mechanical failure to the age of the aircraft but to the failure of a specific part,” Col. Gentry Boswell, vice commander of the 28th Bomb Wing, said in a statement responding to the report. “The B-1 has a proven track record with more than 30 years of successful service across the globe.”
Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that focuses on defense policy, said he also believes the faulty part was not linked to the plane’s age.
“Sometimes things break,” he told the Rapid City Journal.
Boeing spokeswoman Jennifer Hogan said in a statement that the crash has not changed the company’s assessment that the B-1B, developed by Boeing in the 1980s, will remain viable for at least another quarter century. AP
China’s first aircraft carrier ends sea trials
China’s first aircraft carrier has successfully completed sea trials in the South China Sea, state media reported.
The Liaoning returned to port Jan. 1 after a 37-day voyage, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Citing an unnamed naval source, Xinhua said the aircraft carrier tested its combat system and conducted a formation practice and “attained the anticipated objectives.”
“All tests and training programs went well as scheduled,” it said.
Aircraft, naval vessels and submarines also participated in the Liaoning’s tests.
Early in the Liaoning’s trial run, one of the Chinese ships accompanying it was involved in a near collision with a U.S. Navy ship. A Chinese media report blamed the U.S. ship getting too close to the Liaoning, while U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called China’s behavior “irresponsible.” It marked the two countries’ most serious sea confrontation in years.
The Liaoning was bought from Ukraine more than a decade ago and extensively refurbished before entering service in 2012.
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea. A recent expansion of its naval reach has challenged the decades-old American dominance and alarmed its smaller neighbors, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam, which have competing territorial claims with Beijing to a string of islands. AP
Czechs to deliver military planes to U.S.
The Czech Republic’s government has approved a deal to deliver military airplanes to the United States.
Defense Minister Vlastimil Picek says Draken International Inc., a U.S. company that cooperates with the U.S. army, will buy up to 28 subsonic L-159 military planes in a deal worth up to $25.8 million.
The light combat and training planes were made between 1999 and 2003. The Czech army had been unsuccessfully trying to sell them since 2004 because it has no use for them.
Picek said a deal with Draken should be signed in January or February and the first planes should be delivered before the year’s end.
The Czech military says Draken has been already using Czech-made L-39 Albatros trainers. AP