08/01/2014 by Paul Fiddian - Armed Forces International's Lead Reporter
An investigation has been launched into last night's fatal HH-60G Pave Hawk search and rescue helicopter crash in Norfolk, England.
Part of the 48th Fighter Wing's 56th Rescue Squadron based at RAF Lakenheath, the USAF HH-60G crashed into a nature reserve whilst carrying out a low-level training sortie. All four personnel on board lost their lives, while debris from the wreckage now covers a wide area, according to those who've surveyed the scene.
The USAF has not yet confirmed the identities of those killed but will do so in coming hours, once the relevant family members have been notified. Meantime, recovery efforts are underway, involving MoD representatives, police forces and US military officials.
Pave Hawk Crash
The Pave Hawk crash involved a helicopter that had been flying a paired night flight. Such flights are conducted to ensure the 56th Rescue Squadron's pilots maintain combat readiness. The second Pave Hawk remains at the crash scene - a circa 1,200 foot area which is roped off from the public.
"The crash site is about the size of a football pitch, with difficult terrain which makes this a challenging and lengthy process", Norfolk Police's Chief Superintendant Bob Scully explained. "This is mainly on marshland although some debris which was close to the beach has been moved as it would be vulnerable to high tide. Further close examinations of the scene will take place this morning and the bodies of the deceased will be removed once this has taken place."
USAF HH-60G Pave Hawk
The USAF's HH-60G Pave Hawk search and rescue helicopter is a derivative of the famous UH-60 Black Hawk. All-weather capable, it carries out emergency response missions around the clock including disaster relief, medical evacuation and humanitarian aid.
The Pave Hawk's operational history includes deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Powered by two General Electric T700-GE-700 engines generating 1,940 shaft horsepower each, this helicopter has a top speed of 184 miles per hour and a range of 580 miles. The type's standard four-man crew comprises two pilots, a flight engineer and a gunner.
The 56th Rescue Squadron is attached to the 48th Fighter Wing, equipped with F-15E Strike Eagles. It has been at RAF Lakenheath since 2006.