Djibouti – Two More Marine Aircraft Mishaps Cause Cancellation of Exercise

By Faye Higbee

The Marine Corps canceled the remainder of military exercise “Alligator Dagger” after two accidents or “mishaps” occurred on April 3 in Djibouti, Africa. Both incidents were tied to the 26th MEU. According to one news outlet, the government of Djibouti requested the halt. Both accidents are under investigation.

“U.S. air operations in Djibouti are on hold and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command has canceled the remainder of exercise Alligator Dagger in response to two separate aviation incidents in Djibouti on April 3, 2018.” Command release from April 5, according to the Marine Corps Times.

“Alligator Dagger is a routine, scheduled training event involving U.S. personnel and operations in the vicinity of Djibouti and Arta Beach Range. Both incidents are currently under a joint investigation, and we will provide more information when able. A safety stand-down has been initiated for all exercise participants…Routine operations for other units assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command are unaffected by this cancellation, and U.S. Naval personnel continue to conduct maritime security operations throughout the region.” Naval Command Press Release.

An AV-8B Harrier crashed shortly after takeoff from Djibouti International Airport at approximately 4:00 p.m. local time on April 3. The pilot was able to eject, and was hospitalized for evaluation. He has since been released.

A little over two hours later, a CH-53 Super Stallion “suffered structural damage” while landing at an “approved exercise landing zone at Arta Beach, Djibouti,” according to the Marine Corps Times.