U.S. air operations in Djibouti are on hold and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command has canceled the remainder of exercise Alligator Dagger in response to two separate aviation incidents in Djibouti on April 3, 2018.
First, an AV-8B Harrier from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) crashed at Djibouti Ambouli International Airport at approximately 4:10 p.m. local time. The pilot ejected and was evaluated and released by the expeditionary medical facility at Camp Lemonnier.
In a separate incident, a Marine CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter from the 26th MEU suffered structural damage during a landing at an approved exercise landing zone at Arta Beach, Djibouti, at approximately 6:40 p.m. local time. The aircrew were not injured during the landing and the helicopter has remained at the landing site pending additional assessment.
Alligator Dagger is a routine, scheduled training event involving U.S. personnel and operations in the vicinity of Djibouti and Arta Beach Range, focusing on skills to ensure regional stability, freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region. Both aviation incidents are currently under a joint investigation, and CENTCOM will provide more information when able. A safety stand-down has been initiated for all exercise participants.
Routine operations for other units assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command are unaffected by this cancellation, and U.S. Naval personnel continue to conduct maritime security operations throughout the region.