US Probes Osprey Program After Four Deadly Crashes in 20 Months

The US Congress has launched an investigation into the entire V-22 Osprey program following four fatal crashes in a span of 20 months.

Last month, eight American soldiers died after an Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft crashed off the coast of Japan while performing a routine training mission.

The incident has prompted both Tokyo and Washington to ground their V-22 fleets while separate investigations and search and rescue missions were being conducted.

On December 21, the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Accountability requested documentation on the Osprey’s safety record from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

According to committee chairman James Comer, safety records are being requested because US soldiers could remain in harm’s way without a viable resolution to potential mechanical issues.

“While, statistically, the Osprey is not considered as dangerous as some other military aircraft, the committee remains alarmed that most fatalities involving the aircraft have happened during training exercises, not combat operations,” he wrote in a letter.

The requested documents are due to be delivered by January 4.

Ensuring Transparency, Accountability

The committee pointed out that a lot of taxpayer money has been invested in the V-22 Osprey program, with the Pentagon purchasing more than 450 for the military.

Each reportedly costs $120 million.

With such spending, the committee said it is keen to understand how the defense department balances these costs while ensuring military capabilities and readiness.

It further stated that while it recognizes the significant advantages Ospreys can bring to combat, it is also crucial for the safety of servicemembers to ensure transparency, accountability, and a thorough understanding of the steps being taken to mitigate any further mechanical risks.

US Navy submarine
A US Marine MV-22 Osprey rotary-wing aircraft replenishing a US Navy submarine while in operation. Photo: US Navy

Previous Fatal Incidents

In March 2022, a V-22B Osprey aircraft belonging to the US Marine Corps crashed in Norway, killing all four American troops on board.

The soldiers were taking part in the Cold Response military exercises led by NATO.

The following month, another Osprey crashed in a remote part of California during a multinational training exercise.

Five US marines died from the incident caused by the mechanical failure of a clutch.

In August this year, three American soldiers were killed and 20 others injured when another MV-22B Osprey went down during warfighting drills in Australia.

Since 1992, more than 50 US service members have been killed in Osprey crashes.

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