The U.S. Marine Corps has launched an investigation after a MV-22B Osprey with 23 on board went down during a training exercise on a remote island in northern Australia on Sunday morning.
In a statement released immediately following the accident, the Corps said three were confirmed dead with five others listed as in serious condition. The August 27 crash marked the second fatal air incident for the Marine Corps in as many days.
“We tragically lost service members during a training exercise in Australia overnight,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a social media post Sunday morning. “These Marines served our country with courage and pride, and my thoughts and prayers are with their families today, with the other troops who were injured in the crash, and with the entire USMC family.”
Said the Marine Corps in a statement: “Marine Rotational Force-Darwin can confirm a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey crash on Melville Island, north of Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, while transporting troops during a routine training exercise.”
The incident took place around 9:30 a.m. as the aircraft was participating in a training exercise called “Exercise Predators Run,” Corps officials said.
The training exercise included about 2,500 personnel from the U.S., Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and East Timor, Reuters reported.
Speaking at a previously scheduled press conference, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed that no Australian personnel were on board the aircraft at the time of the accident. “Our focus as a government and as a Department of Defense is very much on incident response and on making sure that every support and assistance is given at this difficult time,” Albanese told Reuters.
During the accident, the Osprey “dove into a jungle and burst into flames,” according to The Hill, which reported military investigators were set to remain at the crash site for 10 days
In June 2022, five Marines were killed when an Osprey went down during a training exercise in Southern California. Last month, Marine Corps officials said a safety issue involving the clutch of the aircraft was the root cause of the accident.
Following the event, the Marines said it took a number of actions, including installing a crash-survivable flight data recorder into all MC-22B aircraft. It also said it coordinated with the aircraft’s OEM to design and field a new proprotor gearbox input quill assembly that mitigates unintentional clutch disengagements and hard clutch engagement events, as well as improve the aircraft’s drivetrain and flight control system software, drivetrain component material strength, and inspection requirements.
The second accident took place on Friday, when a F/A-18 Hornet crashed during a training exercise near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar shortly before midnight, killing pilot Major Andrew Mettler.
Mettler was assigned to Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA(AW)) 224, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 31, 2nd MAW stationed on Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina. That accident is also under investigation.
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