A Croatian Air Force Kiowa Warrior helicopter has crashed in the Adriatic Sea, near the city of Sibenik, killing one crew member while a search operation is in the process to find the second person who was on board the helicopter.
The incident happened at around 10:30 am Monday near the island of Zlarin off the coast of the central Dalmatian city of Sibenik.
According to the country’s defence ministry, the helicopter was on a training flight when the accident occurred and an intensive search and rescue operation for the missing crew member is underway. The cause of the crash is not immediately known.
“I express my deep and heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased pilot, we provide them with the necessary assistance and support. I formed a commission headed by the Chief Air Force Investigator to determine all the circumstances of the accident”, said Minister of Defence Damir Krstičević in a statement.
Ministar Krstičević: Izražavam duboku i skrenu sućut obitelji poginulog pilota, pružamo im potrebnu pomoć i podršku. Formirao sam Povjerenstvo na čelu kojeg je glavni vojni zrakoplovni istražitelj s ciljem da se utvrde sve okolnosti nastanka ove nesreće.
— MORH/MoD Croatia (@MORH_OSRH) January 27, 2020
In a later statement, the Ministry confirmed that one of the two crew members on board the helicopter had died in the crash. A search rescue involving Croatian Air Force and Coastguard personnel is ongoing, the ministry stated.
At 14:30 local time [13:30 GMT], the Ministry of Defence will hold a press conference to discuss the incident.
The Croatian military received 16 Kiowa Warrior helicopters from the United States’ military surplus. The final delivery of 11 helicopters was received in December 2016, with the US donating the equipment to bolster Croatia’s air capabilities.
The helicopter was one of the 16 Kiowa Warrior helicopters received by Croatia as a donation from the United States in 2016.
The Bell OH-58 Kiowa is a family of single-engine, single-rotor, military helicopters manufactured by Bell Helicopter for the U.S. Army based on its Model 206A JetRanger helicopter.
The helicopters are primarily used for observation, utility, and direct fire support.
The OH-58 was in continuous U.S. Army service from 1969 to 2017, when it was replaced in this role by the Boeing AH-64 Apache. The latest model, the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, is primarily operated in an armed reconnaissance role in support of ground troops. The OH-58 has been exported to Austria, Canada, Croatia, the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and Greece. It has also been produced under license in Australia.