A C-130 Super Hercules crashed shortly after midnight at Jalalabad Air Base which is located about 80 miles east of Kabul, Afghanistan. On-board were six military crew members and five civilian passengers, all of whom lost their lives. The passengers were all working with NATO’s mission in the country.
Jalalabad Air Base, commonly referred to as “J-Bad,” is famous for its use as staging point for Operation Neptune Spear, the mission that killed Bin Laden, but it is widely known as a key helicopter and drone outpost with a focus on special operations. It is also a very compact installation, with a relatively small runway that has aircraft and infrastructure packed closely alongside it.
Compared to other major bases in Afghanistan, J-Bad is quaint to say the least, and the margins for safely operating large fixed-wing aircraft out of it are reduced. Still, flights come and go everyday safely. Additionally, the base does not have the large buffer zone between it and the local population that many other bases in Afghanistan have, making perimeter security a constant challenge.
As of now there is no reported evidence that the plane was lost due to hostile fire, although the Taliban have claimed they shot the aircraft down, a statement that is not surprising and far from trustworthy. Seeing that reports state the crash happened all within the base’s small footprint, it would be amazing if other infrastructure and aircraft were not damaged as well. As of now, some sources state that the C-130 involved in the tragic mishap was a J “Super Hercules” model, although exactly what unit it belonged to remains a mystery.
The crash is another sad reminder of how Afghanistan is still taking American lives even though our military posture has been hugely reduced to a supporting and special operations shadow force. It may be called the forgotten war for good reason, but for those families who just lost loved ones today it will be anything but.
We will keep you updated as more details emerge.
UPDATE 10:26AM PST: According to the Air Force TImes, four of the crew were from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas and the other two came from Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.
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