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Navy suspends flight training for 300+ Saudi military personnel in the US

Three MH-53 Sea Dragons with Helicopters Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) at NAS Pensacola Sept. 4. (Jason Bortz/NAS Pensacola)
December 10, 2019

The U.S. Navy has suspended flight training for at least 300 Saudi Arabian students on Tuesday, just four days after a Saudi military pilot killed three at Pensacola Naval Air Station.

More than 300 Saudi Arabian students currently training at three Florida military bases are indefinitely suspended from flight training, Navy Cmdr. Clay Doss confirmed to The Associated Press.

The suspension affects 140 students at Pensacola Naval Air Station, 35 at Whiting Field, and 128 at Naval Air Station Mayport.

Classroom training will resume this week, and students other than Saudi Arabian students will resume flight training.

The Pensacola base is considered “the Cradle of Naval Aviation” where all flight training begins, according to the Navy.

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The suspension follows the death of three NAS Pensacola aviation students in the Dec. 6 attack carried out by Royal Saudi Air Force 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a pilot who was one of approximately 200 foreign military members training at the base, Reuters reported.

Escambia County Sheriff deputies responded to the incident and confronted Alshamrani after receiving details of his location from a dying victim, Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, who was shot five times.

Deputies engaged in a firefight with Alshamrani, killing him and leaving one deputy with a gunshot wound to the arm, and the other deputy with a gunshot wound to the knee.