U.S. Marines may ground Osprey after deadly crash

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) may ground its fleet of MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to conduct a safety review following a crash in Australia, AFP reported quoting a U.S. defense official on Monday.

A USMC MV-22 Osprey crashed off the coast of Shoalwater Bay near Rockhampton in North Queensland, eastern Australia in the late afternoon on Saturday, leaving three service members missing and presumed dead.

“We are looking at our options in terms of reviewing safety across the Marine Corps fleet at the moment … pending an across-the-board safety review,” a US defense official was quoted as saying.

US officials are also weighing a request by Japanese defense minister, who told the US military on Monday of his “many concerns” after it flew an Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft in the country following the crash. Japanese media said the flight took place on the southern island of Okinawa, where a squadron of Ospreys is stationed at the US Marines’ Futenma base.

Itsunori Onodera, appointed Thursday as Japan’s defense minister, had asked the US to temporarily stop flying the aircraft in his country following the accident. “We have still many concerns,” Onodera said during a meeting with Major General Charles Chiarotti, deputy commander of US Forces in Japan, according to a defence ministry spokesman.

The Marine Corps did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Chiarotti told Onodera the flight was necessary for operational reasons and that safety was confirmed, according to Japan’s defense ministry.

According to the US official, the Osprey crashed after clipping the back of the USS Green Bay while trying to land on the amphibious transport ship. The Okinawa-based aircraft which crashed was in Australia as part of a joint military exercise called Talisman Sabre, which has just ended in Queensland state.

There have been a series of deadly incidents, mostly in the United States, involving the aircraft. In April 2000 19 Marines were killed in an MV-22 crash in Arizona.

Locals on Okinawa have protested at the deployment of Ospreys to Futenma, which sits in the middle of a crowded city. In December a “controlled landing” of an Osprey just off the Okinawan coast during a training flight sparked local anger. The aircraft broke into pieces but no one was killed.

About V-22 Osprey:

Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is an American multi-mission, tiltrotor military aircraft with both vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities.

It is designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.

The MV-22 reached initial operational capability (IOC) with the U.S. Marine Corps on 13 June 2007. The Osprey has been replacing the CH-46 Sea Knight since 2007; the Sea Knight was retired in October 2014.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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