The US military has decided to ground its entire fleet of V-22 Ospreys in the aftermath of an Air Force CV-22 crash off the Coast of Yakushima Island in Japan, resulting in the tragic deaths of all eight airmen on board.
The Air Force Special Operations Command released a statement, revealing that Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, the commander of AFSOC, has directed an "operational standdown" of the Air Force’s CV-22 fleet. This measure aims to mitigate risks during the ongoing investigation into the crash. Simultaneously, the Naval Air Systems Command announced the grounding of the Navy and Marine Corps’ V-22s as a precautionary measure while the investigation into the CV-22 crash proceeds.
The Air Force emphasized that the Osprey fleet will remain grounded until the investigation is complete. However, there is no indication of the expected duration of this suspension. Air Force and Navy officials stated that their decision to "mitigate risk while continuing the investigation."
As per the reports, a preliminary investigation has revealed that a potential material failure caused the recent mishap involving an Air Force CV-22, as stated by the Air Force Special Operations Command. The underlying cause of this failure remains unknown at this time.
In response, the Air Force Special Operations Command emphasized the necessity of the stand-down, providing both time and space for a comprehensive investigation into causal factors. The objective is to derive recommendations ensuring the safe return of the Air Force CV-22 fleet to flight operations.
The incident occurred during a training flight from a US Marine Corps air base in Yamaguchi Prefecture, headed towards Kadena Air Base in Okinawa at the time of the crash. Japan, the only other nation recognized for operating Ospreys as both helicopters and aircraft with propellers, has subsequently grounded its fleet of 14 Ospreys in the aftermath of the incident.
The US-made Osprey is a hybrid aircraft with helicopter takeoff and landing capabilities, as well as the ability to rotate its propellers forward for faster airplane-like cruising during flight. However, its design has caused concerns due to past incidents, including a recent crash. The ongoing investigation is focusing on safety issues, particularly a long-standing problem with the clutch. There are also questions about whether all parts of the Osprey meet safety standards.
The military currently deploys 51 Ospreys in the Air Force, approximately 400 in the US Marine Corps, and 27 with the US Navy. Despite being a relatively recent addition to the military fleet since its operational debut in 2007, the Osprey has experienced over 50 fatalities associated with incidents, including crashes over the past 20 months. An ongoing investigation is examining a recent Osprey accident in Australia, resulting in the loss of three Marines.
Image source: CNN