Pentagon says American bomber goes into Indian Ocean, rescue mission under way
By Associated Press, 12/12/01
WASHINGTON - An Air Force B-1B bomber involved in the war in Afghanistan went down in the Indian Ocean Wednesday and all four crew members were rescued, Pentagon officials said.
The crew members were taken aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer that was sent to the crash site, according to Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. There was no immediate word on their condition.
It was the first fixed-wing U.S. warplane to go down since the war began Oct. 7. Officials said it was not immediately clear whether the supersonic B1-B was returning from a mission over Afghanistan or leaving for a mission.
An Air Force KC-10 refueling tanker flew to the B1-B crash site and established voice contact with a member of the bomber crew, according to a statement by U.S. Central Command, which is overseeing combat operations in Afghanistan. The KC-10 crew saw a strobe light blinking at the crash site.
Later, the Navy destroyer USS Russell arrived and the rescued crew was taken aboard.
The crash occurred at 11:30 a.m. Eastern time.
There was no indication of the cause, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said.
The bomber went down about 30 miles north of Diego Garcia, a British island that the United States is using to base B-1B and B-52 bombers flying long-range combat missions over Afghanistan.
"This underscores what we try to remember all the time -- that the men and women in the U.S. military put their lives at risk every single day," Clarke said. "And we're grateful."
Diego Garcia is in the central Indian Ocean.