Two Marine pilots are dead after a Saturday crash of an AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter near Yuma, Ariz., the service announced on Sunday.
The pilots were flying in a training mission as part of the Marines Weapons and Tactics Instructor course 2-19 overseen by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-One (MAWTS-1). The crash occurred at about 8:45 p.m. local time, according to the statement from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.
The Marine Corps is withholding the names of the pilots until 24 hours after next-of-kin identification. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
MAWTS-1 oversees the “semi-annual Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) course, top aviators from around the fleet not only trained to high-end warfighting scenarios but also help advance tactics to keep up with real-world developments and conduct experiments with emerging technologies that could give Marines in the air and on the ground an edge on the battlefield,” USNI News reported during a visit to the command in 2016.
According to a Saturday post on Facebook, this week at the exercise was designated as “instructor pilots fly week.”
“By solidifying operating procedures and testing out the training area, pilots prepare to support their students during the upcoming flight phase for WTI 2-19,” read the post.
The following is the March 30, 2019 statement from the U.S. Marine Corps on the crash.
AH-1Z HELICOPTER CRASH AT MARINE CORPS WEAPONS AND TACTICS INSTRUCTOR COURSE
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. —
Two Marine pilots were killed as a result of an AH-1Z Viper helicopter crash in the vicinity of Yuma, Arizona, at approximately 8:45 p.m., March 30, 2019.
Both pilots were conducting a routine training mission as part of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course 2-19.
The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.
The names of the deceased will be withheld until 24 hours after next-of-kin notification.
Updates will be provided as information becomes available.