A Marine AV-8B Harrier sustained millions of dollars of damage on Friday this month after its landing gear collided with a ship during a descent.
The incident involved a Harrier attached to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said a spokesman for the MEU, Capt. Brian Block, a spokesman for the MEU confirmed. The unit MEU recently entered the 5th Fleet area of operations, which includes all of the Middle East.
At about 4:30 p.m. on June 19, the aircraft sustained a hard landing aboard the amphibious assault ship Essex upon return from routine flight operations, Block said. The ship was operating in the Arabian Sea at the time.
According to a short report from the Naval Safety Center, the Harrier's landing gear collided with the stern of the ship during an emergency rolling landing. Because the incident is still under investigation, Block said he could not provide additional details about the circumstances of the landing or what might have caused the emergency.
Harriers are equipped with vertical takeoff and landing technology, which allows the aircraft to hover and land with minimal rolling, a valuable asset on ships' short flight decks.
No personnel, including the Harrier's pilot, were injured during the hard landing, Block said. The flight deck remains operational, he said, and the aircraft remains aboard the Essex.
While Block said he could not comment on the extent of the damage the Harrier sustained, the incident's classification as a "Class A" mishap means that the landing did at least $2 million worth of damage.
The Aviation Mishap Board is now investigating the incident, he said.
This hard landing comes on the heels of a series of tragic mishaps involving Marine Corps aircraft. On May 17, two Marines were killed when an MV-22B Osprey crashed at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii. Five days earlier, a UH-1Y Venom helicopter crashed during humanitarian operations in Nepal, killing the six Marines and seven Nepalese personnel aboard. In January, another Huey crash short of a runway at Twentynine Palms, California, left two Marines dead.
But emergency landings do not always end in tragedy. Last June, a Harrier deployed with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit sustained a perfect landing after losing its front landing gear, using a small bench to support the front of the aircraft as it made its precise vertical descent.
The pilot, Marine Capt. William Mahoney, received the Marine Corps Air Medal for his quick thinking that saved the aircraft.