2020 United States Air Force E-11A crash

On 27 January 2020, a United States Air Force Bombardier Global Express E-11A aircraft crashed in Afghanistan's Dih Yak District, Ghazni Province. Two people on board were killed, the whole crew according to US military sources.

2020 United States Air Force E-11A crash
Photograph of the E-11A involved in the accident
11-9358, the aircraft involved in the accident, in 2015.
Date27 January 2020 (2020-01-27)
SummaryEngine loss caused by a broken turbine blade;[1] shut-down of operating engine due to pilot error
SiteDih Yak District, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan
Total fatalities4
Aircraft typeNorthrop Grumman E-11A
(Bombardier Global Express)
Operator430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron, USAF
Flight originKandahar International Airport
DestinationKandahar International Airport
Ground casualties
Ground fatalities2


The aircraft crashed at 13:10 local time (08:40 UTC) in the Dih Yak District. Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. The crash site is 130 kilometres (70 nmi) south west of Kabul, and near the village of Sado Khelo.[3][4] Voice of America stated that all five people on board were killed.[5] The U.S. Department of Defense only confirmed two fatalities recovered at the crash site.[6][7] Two Afghan locals died on the ground by impact of the crash.[2]

It was originally reported to be an aircraft of Ariana Afghan Airlines,[8][9] but the airline later ruled out this possibility, saying all its flights had been accounted for.[3] A spokesman for the United States military confirmed the identity of the aircraft involved in the accident, which occurred in an area controlled by the Taliban.[4] A Taliban spokesman said to Al-Arabiyah, that Taliban militias shot down the aircraft killing everyone on board, including high-ranking officials. However, these reports remain unconfirmed.[10][11] Reports circulated by state affiliated media of both Iran and Russia suggested that the Central Intelligence Agency's Chief of Iran operations Michael D'Andrea was killed in the crash.[12][13] These reports are also unconfirmed, and the CIA neither confirmed nor denied the presence of its officers aboard the crashed plane.[14][15]

On 29 January 2020, Pentagon sources identified the airmen killed in the crash as 46-years-old Lieutenant Colonel Paul K. Voss of Yigo, Guam (who had served with the U.S. Air Force for 25 years) and 30-years-old Captain Ryan S. Phaneuf of Hudson, New Hampshire (who had served with the U.S. Air Force for 8 years).[16]


The incident aircraft was a Bombardier Global Express outfitted by Northrop Grumman as an E-11A of the United States Air Force.[17] Video of the crash scene shows that the aircraft serial number was 11–9358,[18] msn 9358. It had first flown in 2009. The aircraft was operated by the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron in the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node role.[19] The aircraft involved in the crash was one of only four in the United States Air Force.[3]

Investigation and findingsEdit

American military authorities opened an investigation into the incident.[4] The aircraft's flight data recorder was recovered.[2]

The investigation concluded that the crash was caused by a broken turbine blade on the left engine compounded by pilot error.[1] The crew misidentified which engine had failed. As a result, the pilots mistakenly shut off power to the right engine, believing the left engine was still intact. The failure to restart the correct engine in the air, and their attempt to return to Kandahar Air Base, substantially contributed to the mishap. With no working engines, the aircraft lacked the necessary altitude and airspeed to glide to the nearest base, forcing them to make an emergency landing on the snowy terrain, which proved too rugged to land safely.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Losey, Stephen (21 January 2021). "Broken fan blade, shutdown of wrong engine led to fatal E-11 crash in Afghanistan, report says". Air Force Times. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Remains of 2 US service members recovered from E-11A crash by Special Operations Forces". Connecting Vets. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Afghan plane crash: Mystery over crash in Taliban territory". BBC News Online. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Altman, Howard; Miller, Kent. "Air Force E-11A aircraft goes down in eastern Afghanistan; US military investigating". Military Times. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  5. ^ Tanzeem, Ayeesha. "Official: 5 Killed in Afghanistan Plane Crash". Voice of America. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  6. ^ "U.S. forces recover bodies of two U.S. service members from site of plane crash in Taliban territory in Afghanistan". The Washington Post. 28 January 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  7. ^ Everstine, Brian W. "Crew Remains Recovered From E-11A Crash". Airforcemag. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  8. ^ "US army investigating plane crash in Taliban-held area". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 27 January 2020. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  9. ^ "Plane crashes in Afghanistan's Ghazni province: Officials". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Taliban says it shot down plane carrying high-ranking US military personnel". Al Arabiyah. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  11. ^ "طالبان مسئولیت سرنگون کردن یک فروند هواپیمای حامل "افسران اطلاعاتی آمریکا" در افغانستان را بر عهده گرفتند" [Response to Downing of 'US Intelligence' Aircraft in Afghanistan]. ار.اف.ای - RFI (in Persian). 27 January 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  12. ^ "Iran TV uses 'Zero Dark Thirty' screenshot to claim CIA boss was killed in Afghanistan plane crash". The Independent. 28 January 2020. Archived from the original on 28 January 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  13. ^ "Unsupported Claims that CIA's Iran Chief Died in Afghan Crash". Polygraph.info. 4 February 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  14. ^ Dozier, Kimberly (1 February 2020). "A U.S. Plane Crashed in Afghanistan. Why So Many Believed a CIA Chief Was On It". Time. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  15. ^ Bostock, Bill. "Iranian state TV used a photo of an actor from 'Zero Dark Thirty' to spread a wild theory that a senior CIA official was killed in a plane crash in Afghanistan". Business Insider. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  16. ^ "DOD Identifies Airmen Killed in E-11 Crash". Air Force Magazine. 29 January 2020. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  17. ^ Hradecky, Simon. "No Afghan Ariana Airlines Crash". Aviation Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  18. ^ @AirportWebcams (27 January 2020). "UPDATE: Afghanistan crash" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  19. ^ "11-9358 accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 27 January 2020.