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2 Killed as Marine Aircraft Crashes

Times Staff Writer

A small Marine reconnaissance aircraft on a routine mission out of Camp Pendleton crashed Wednesday in the desert near Palm Springs, killing the pilot and a crew member, Marine officials said.

Staff Sgt. Richard Ness of El Toro Marine Corps Air Station said the crash occurred shortly after noon about 30 miles east of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms in San Bernardino County. The 600,000-acre training facility is northeast of Palm Springs.

Ness said late Wednesday that the names of the victims would not be released until their families are notified. An investigation of the crash is under way. No details were immediately available.

The OV-10 Bronco was part of the 3rd Aircraft Wing at El Toro and was stationed at Camp Pendleton.

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The Marines have two squadrons of OV-10s, one stationed on the East Coast and the other at Pendleton.

The multipurpose, two-seat plane is used primarily for reconnaissance missions, including control of artillery and naval gunfire spotting. It is also used to escort helicopters and is sometimes used for low-level photography.

It has been called the ground force commander’s most useful tool for battlefield reconnaissance and special missions.

The two-engine, propeller-driven plane is built by Rockwell International.

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