There have been 22 US military noncombat plane crashes flying routine operations so far this year, which is 38 percent higher than this time last year, US-based Fox News reported Saturday.
According to the report, the number of American troops killed in such plane crashes has more than doubled, with the number of US troops killed in aircraft crashes in 2017 standing at 37 after Thursday’s announcement by the Seventh Fleet that it has ended its search for three missing sailors hundreds of miles off the coast of Japan.
The crash of the C-2 Greyhound occurred 575 miles out to sea while flying from Japan to aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.
The death toll is more than 130 percent higher than the number killed in non-combat plane crashes at this point in 2016, the report added, insisting that many US lawmakers blame the rising casualty figures and the number of such incidents on years of budget cuts.
"Perhaps the greatest harm to our national security and our military is self-inflicted. I repeat self-inflicted," said the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, asserting that "we are killing more of our own people in training than our enemies are in combat."
The Navy transport plane crash last Wednesday was the deadliest one for the US military since an Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed off the coast of Hawaii in August, killing five service members.
Just two days before the Navy plane crash on Wednesday, an Air Force T-38 training jet -- with parts also dating back to the 1960s -- crashed in Texas, killing a pilot and injuring another. A mechanical failure is suspected in the incident.
A similar Navy training jet, a T-45, also crashed last month, killing both pilots.
Moreover in July, a Marine Corps KC-130 transport aircraft crashed in the Mississippi Delta, killing all 16 on board after reaching cruising altitude during a routine cross-country flight from North Carolina to California.
Less than a month later, a Marine Corps V-22 Osprey crashed off the east coast of Australia, killing three US Marines. Rescue workers saved 23 other service members.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has testified before Congress, insisting that "no enemy in the field has done more to harm the combat readiness of our military than [budget cuts]."
Senator McCain has also said that “only five of 58 Army brigades and four of 64 Air Force squadrons are combat-ready.”
This is while the Congress has called for a $26 billion rise in US defense spending to rebuild the military and to get more airplanes flying again amid the grounding of many due to shortage of spare parts as well as combat pilots.