Two Marines were killed and another nine members of collation forces were injured on Friday night at Camp Bastion – managed and operated by the British – in Afghanistan. I’m curious to know how many of you know we lost eight out of 10 Marine Harrier jets in Afghanistan during the attack.
Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211 is based out of Yuma, Ariz. and arrived in Afghanistan from a previous deployment in April and had moved from Kandahar to Camp Bastion in July. From U-T San Diego.
One of two Marines killed when insurgents breached the main strategic base in southwestern Afghanistan late Friday night hailed from a Yuma squadron that lost six Harrier jets and two more that were significantly damaged in the unprecedented attack on Camp Bastion, Marine sources confirmed.
A Google search for ‘harrier jets’ in the news world provided a bunch of articles specific to the jets and the attack, but nothing from CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, or ABC. TIME mentioned the incident in an awkwardly written piece that also mentioned NATO forces mistakenly attacked “women and girls collecting firewood.” Later in the article we learn these deaths – tragic if they were innocents – occurred during an attack on a significant number of militants. TIME did not feel it was necessary to find out more details.
Think the loss of Harriers sucks but is not a big deal? Think again.
- This single attack resulted in the Marines loosing 8 percent of the US Harrier fighting fleet. This is based on the estimate that there are 120 of them in service, of which about 20 are exclusive training aircraft. Wikipedia notes a similar number (119) in the fleet including the trainers.
- This was the only Marine Harrier squadron in Afghanistan, leaving a hole in close air support for troops on the ground until a replacement squad arrives.
- The attack represents the worst aircraft loss in one day for the US since the Vietnam War, and the worst for VMA-211 since Pearl Harbor.
- The last new Harrier rolled off the line in 2003 – almost a decade ago – and is set to eventually be replaced by the F-35B.
Update: To clarify, all eight were not completely destroyed, two of the eight were significantly damaged and supposedly can be repaired.
Update 2: After three days, the attack and the loss of the aircraft are now making the main stream media.