Military helicopter participating in NATO exercise lost in sea between Italy and Greece


Royal Canadian Air Force’s Cyclone helicopter

A military helicopter operating off a Canadian frigate taking part in a NATO operation in the Mediterranean crashed into the sea between Greece and Italy, the Canadian military said.

Greek state TV reported debris from the crash and one body were located late Wednesday, leaving the five others aboard the aircraft missing.

The Cyclone helicopter was deployed on board the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton and was participating in a NATO exercise off the coast of Greece (50 nautical miles west of Kefalonia) when the incident occurred, according to the Canadian Armed Forces.

HMCS Fredericton

“Search and rescue efforts are currently underway,″ the military said in a statement. “As this is evolving, we have no further information to provide at this time.″

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s Cyclone helicopters carry a crew of four, including two pilots, a tactical operator and a sensor operator with space for several passengers. They are primarily based on naval vessels and used for hunting submarines, surveillance and search and rescue.

The Canadian military only started using them on missions in late 2018 after more than a decade of developmental challenges, delays and cost overruns. It is also likely to raise questions about the aircraft.

Greek authorities said they had not been asked to help as the area is far off the Greek mainland and outside the area where the country has responsibility for search and rescue operations.

A spokesperson for NATO provided little in the way of comment.

“I confirm there has been an incident involving a helicopter from a ship under NATO command,” said Col. Juanita Chang, chief of public affairs at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium.

“There is currently a search and rescue operation being conducted and national notifications taking place.”

Separately, a NATO source told CBC News that contact with the helicopter was lost early in the evening on Wednesday, around 8:15 p.m., local time. The flight was briefed as a routine flight operation while the task force was at sea, according to the official, who asked that their name be kept confidential because of the sensitivity of the subject.

source -CBS news

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