Sydney, Australia, July 31 (EFE).- Australia’s Defense Minister Richard Marles said Monday that the authorities have lost any hope of finding four Australian soldiers who were on board a helicopter that crashed last week alive.
The four servicemen were flying over Australian waters during international training maneuvers on Friday night when their MRH-90 Taipan helicopter plunged into the sea near Hamilton Island, some 890 kilometers (553 miles) from the Queensland state capital city of Brisbane.
“The only point I’d make is that it is clear there was a catastrophic impact and that forms part of why we are now transferring this from an activity of search and rescue to one of recovery” of the remains of the air crew members, Marles said at a press conference in Canberra.
“In the meantime, our fleet of MRH-90s have been grounded and they won’t fly again until we understand what has happened and we have modified or acted accordingly,” added the minister, who appeared with the chief of the Australian Defense Force (ADF), Angus Campbell.
In March, 10 ADF personnel were rescued after an MRH 90 helicopter crashed into the sea at Jervis Bay, almost 200 kilometers north of Sydney.
That incident occurred two months after the Australian government announced that it would replace its fleet of Taipan military helicopters with 40 Black Hawks.
General Angus said that the ongoing Talisman Sabre maneuvers were continuing “albeit it in some parts, particularly in the vicinity of the incident site, adjusted or changed in a way that enables the recovery effort to continue at scale.”
The helicopter was taking part in night maneuvers as part of the Talisman Sabre 2023 military exercises, Australia’s biggest war-gaming exercise.
The maneuvers, which bring together some 30,000 troops from 13 countries, are scheduled to conclude on Aug. 4. EFE