Marine Corps considers temporarily grounding all aircraft after deadly crashes

The grounding could be announced as early as today.

Lt. Gen. Steven R. Rudder, the Marine Corps' deputy commandant for aviation, is considering the move, which could be announced as early as today.

The defense official said the 24-hour stand-down would affect all Marine flying squadrons worldwide and would reinforce proper flight training procedures for Marine pilots and air crews.

On July 10, a Navy corpsman and 15 Marines were killed when a KC-130T transport aircraft crashed into a field in central Mississippi. Early indications are that the aircraft may have experienced problems at cruising altitude. As a protective measure, the Navy and Marine Corps grounded all 35 of their KC-130T aircraft until further notice while that crash is under investigation.

Safety stand-downs of particular Marine aircraft are not unusual.

Last August, the Marine Corps ordered a safety stand-down for all nondeployed F/A-18 fighter aircraft after a series of fatal crashes involving those planes.

At the time, squadron commanders were given seven days to carry out the 24-hour stand-down, which affected only nondeployed Marine aircraft.

Last September, all Marine AV-8 Harrier fighters in Japan were temporarily grounded after one of the aircraft crashed into the sea 100 miles off the coast of Japan. The pilot survived the crash.

The Marine Corps in recent years has experienced a decline in readiness of its aging fleet of aircraft. That has affected available training hours and the number of aircraft able to fly at any given time.