At least 134 servicemen were killed and 62 military helicopters crashed in the past 10 years while pilots wore night-vision goggles that the Pentagon knew were unsafe, it was reported Sunday.
In crash after crash, qualified military pilots wearing the light-amplifying goggles at night flew their helicopters blindly into mountains, wires, trees, oceans and one another, the Orange County Register reported in a copyright story based on a six-month investigation.In 52 crashes since 1978, 62 helicopters have been destroyed, a loss of more than $180 million in equipment, according to reports obtained from the U.S. Army Safety Center, the U.S. Navy Safety Center and the U.S. Air Force Inspection and Safety Center.
Most of the crashes occurred during difficult, ground-skimming flights while pilots looked through outdated goggles that were not fully tested for flight, the paper said.
At least 134 servicemen were killed and 103 others were injured, the paper said. Forty-one of the crashes involved Army flights, eight involved the Marine Corps and the Air Force reported three, the paper said. The Navy refused to fly helicopters with the goggles.
The goggles were designed and tested for ground troops and truck driving. Their designers and manufacturers never considered them flightworthy.