U.S. Air Force C-130H Hercules cargo plane overshot the runway at Camp Taji in Iraq, hit a wall, and burst into flames earlier this evening. Four servicemembers suffered non-life threatening injuries and are now receiving treatment at the Iraqi base. The U.S. military says that there is no indication that hostile activity was responsible for the mishap in any way.
“The airfield crash, fire and rescue team were on the scene within 4 minutes, extinguished the fire, and assisted an evacuation of the plane,” U.S. Army Colonel Myles Caggins, the top spokesperson for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, said in a statement. “The quick actions of the airfield crash, fire and rescue team helped patients, and limited damage to equipment and infrastructure.”
The C-130H, which is assigned to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait, crashed at Taji, which is situated approximately 17 miles north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, at around 10:10 PM local time. Iraqi officials told The Associated Press that there were seven crew members and 26 passengers on the aircraft, in total, but the U.S. military has not yet confirmed this. The incident is already under investigation.
While an enemy attack is not suspected in this case, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have fired rockets at Taji on a number of occasions in the past. One such attack on March 11, 2020, killed U.S. Army Specialist Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias, Air Force Staff Sergeant Marshal Roberts, as well as Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon, a British Army medic. The U.S. military subsequently launched airstrikes on five different sites linked to the militia Kata’ib Hizbollah.
The Air Force had another mishap, as well, today with one of its F-35As. That aircraft’s gear collapsed after landing at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.