ATHENS, Greece (AP) – 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 ERT said 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 when the incident occurred, according to the Canadian Armed Forces.
“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.´´
1/2 Developing situation regarding our CH-148 Cyclone, deployed onboard HMCS FREDERICTON, which is currently contributing to Op #REASSURANCE.
Contact was lost with the aircraft as it was participating in Allied exercises off the coast of Greece.
— Canadian Armed Forces Operations (@CFOperations) April 29, 2020
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.
The military was originally supposed to have received 28 Cyclones from manufacturer Sikorsky starting in November 2008. But the first helicopter wasn´t delivered until June 2015 and even then, they were missing vital equipment and software and only suitable for training.
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 NATO statement said only that there was “an incident involving a helicopter from a ship under NATO command.” It said a search and rescue operation was underway.