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Marine Corps orders pause in flight operations after three recent crashes

By Oren Liebermann, CNN

(CNN) — The Marine Corps ordered a pause in flight operations following three crashes in the last six weeks, including Sunday’s incident in which an F-35B fighter jet went missing after the pilot ejected.

The pause, ordered by Acting Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric Smith, will last two days, according to Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Jim Stenger. During that time, all of the aviation units within the service will review safe flight operations, ground safety, maintenance and flight procedures, and maintaining combat readiness.

Most recently, a debris field located approximately two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston was identified as the remains of the Marine Corps F-35B that went missing after its pilot ejected Sunday afternoon, according to the Marine Corps and a defense official with knowledge of the search.

On August 24, a Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet crashed near San Diego. The pilot was killed in the crash, and the cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Days later, a Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey crashed during military exercises in Australia, killing three and leaving five others in serious condition. This crash also remains under investigation.

Though there is no indication of any connection between the crashes, all of the incidents are classified as Class-A mishaps by the Marine Corps, defined as an incident that leads to a fatality or more than $2.5 million in property damage. The severity of the crashes prompted the pause in Marine aviation operations.

“This pause invests time and energy in reinforcing the Marine aviation community’s established policies, practices and procedures in the interests of public safety, protecting our Marines and sailors, and ensuring the Marine Corps remains a ready and highly-trained fighting force,” the Marine Corps said in a statement.

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CNN’s Haley Britzky contributed to this report.

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