News Briefs – November 12, 2018


Report: Pilot error cause of deadly military plane crash

The cause of a military plane crash that left nine people dead outside Savannah, Ga., was pilot error, according to a report by the U.S. Air Force Accident Investigation Board.
Nine airmen from the Puerto Rico National Guard died May 2 when the plane plunged onto Georgia Highway 21 shortly after takeoff from the Savannah airport.
“The purpose of the investigation was to identify the cause and contributing factors that led to this tragic and unfortunate incident,” said Accident Investigation Board team leader Brig. Gen. John C. Millard. “By conducting a thorough review and investigation, we hope to provide answers to the families of brave Airmen that lost their lives and prevent future occurrences and tragedies.”
Millard’s team spent close to a month reviewing an array of evidence including interviews, logs, video, briefing materials and inspection of aircraft wreckage before assembling a detailed sequence of events surrounding the crash.
According to the report, the left outermost engine experienced problems and investigators found that the crew’s mismanagement of the malfunction deviated from standard procedures. Failure to follow those procedures made further action by the pilot result in loss of control of the aircraft, causing it to crash.
The plane was assigned to a crew from the 156th Airlift Wing in Muniz Air Base from Puerto Rico. Their mission was to deliver the C-130 plane from Savannah to an Air Force base in Arizona commonly referred to as the “Boneyard,” where it would be decommissioned.
The pilot of the plane was previously identified as Maj. Jose R. Roman Rosado, of Manati, Puerto Rico.
All nine crew members had helped with hurricane recovery efforts as part of the 198th Fighter Squadron, nicknamed the Bucaneros, which flies out of Base Muniz in the northern coastal city of Carolina, said Adjutant Gen. Isabelo Rivera, commander of the Puerto Rico National Guard. The squadron used the plane to rescue Americans from the British Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma, and later supplied food and water to Puerto Ricans desperate for help after Hurricane Maria. AP

China warns U.S. to avoid islands it claims in South China Sea

China bluntly told the United States to stop sending ships and military aircraft close to islands claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea, during talks Nov. 9 that set the stage for a meeting between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping later this month.
The U.S. pushed back, insisting it will continue to “fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.” In late September, U.S. and Chinese vessels nearly collided near a disputed reef.
Despite the frank airing of differences at the meeting in Washington of the two nations’ top diplomats and military chiefs, both sides stressed the need to tamp down tensions, which have flared amid a bitter trade dispute that Trump and Xi are expected to tackle at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina.
“The United States is not pursuing a policy of Cold War containment with China,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters following the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue. “Rather we want to ensure that China acts responsibly and fairly in support of security and prosperity of each of our two countries.”
The talks were due to be held in Beijing last month but were postponed after Washington announced new arms sales to Taiwan, and after a Chinese destroyer came close to the USS Decatur in late September in what the U.S. Navy called an “unsafe and unprofessional maneuver.” Beijing has sweeping but disputed sovereignty claims in the area. AP

Serbia holds military drills amid Kosovo tensions

Serbia held large military drills Nov. 10 to mark 100 years since the end of World War I in an apparent show of force amid rising tensions over Kosovo.
The live-ammunition maneuvers, dubbed “The Century of Winners,” include 8,000 soldiers, 100 battle tanks and MiG-29 fighter jets supplied by Russia.
Tensions recently have increased in the region, with Serbia and Kosovo accusing each other of undermining efforts at reconciliation following a 1998-99 war which ended after NATO intervention. The former Serbian province declared independence in 2008 which Belgrade doesn’t recognize.
Serbian officials are especially worried by plans of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leadership to transform its security forces into regular army troops. Serbs have warned of unspecified measures to prevent that move and “protect” the Serbian minority in Kosovo.
Supported by its ally Russia, Serbia recently increased its sabre rattling over Kosovo, including raising combat readiness of its troops over a series of small incidents. Serbia’s army intervention in Kosovo would trigger a direct clash with NATO-led peacekeepers stationed there.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who attended the military exercises held in different parts of Serbia, said the Balkan country will strengthen its “offensive” forces with new equipment, including helicopters, 30 battle tanks from Russia and drones from China.
“We are dramatically strengthening our military,” Vucic told state broadcaster RTS. “No one in the region, except maybe Romania, can compare to us.”
Serbia is often wrongly accused of starting World War I after teenage Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1914, triggering a series of events that eventually led to the war.
Serbia lost about half of its male population during the four-year war, including 130,000 troops in a series of battles in the Balkans against a much stronger enemy. Serbia’s sufferings are considered the worst losses by any European nation during the war proportional to the size of its population and the army. AP