Bomb-laden Marine plane crashes in residential neighborhood

New crash adds to troubled Harrier jet history

The pilot ejected safely and two people on the ground suffered only minor injuries. Obviously, it could have been much, much worse. The AV-8B was carrying four 500-pound bombs.

The jet was coming in for a landing at Marine Corps Air Station-Yuma when it crashed in the backyard of a home about a mile from the base, said Marine Cpl. Michael Nease. It was also carrying 300 rounds of 25-millimeter ammunition, he said.

Nease said the bombs were not in danger of exploding, noting that they “have multiple levels of safeties and are actually designed for a situation where they are dropped accidentally.”

Two homes near the crash site sustained some structural damage after the aircraft burst into flames. A one-mile radius around the crash was evacuated while a military explosives disposal team dismantled the bombs so they could be removed.

It’s the fourth Harrier crash in the Yuma area in the past 2 1/2 years.

The latest Desert Talon, a training exercise to prepare Marines for duty in Iraq, is underway in the Yuma area. A lot of the primary focus of the Desert Talon exercises has been around air operations and air-to-ground coordination. I noted the first Desert Talon back in January of 2004. The primary focus back then was on helicopter operations, but the exercise has evolved as lessons are learned and the environment in Iraq has changed.

No word whether this accident is related to Desert Talon.