WASHINGTON (Agencies): In response to the tragic crash of a U.S. Air Force CV-22 off the coast of Japan on November 29, claiming the lives of eight airmen, the entire fleet of V-22 Osprey aircraft has been grounded by the U.S. military. Preliminary investigation findings point towards a “potential material failure” as the cause, prompting a stand-down to allow for a comprehensive examination of the incident.
The Air Force Special Operations Command, in a press release on December 6, stated, “Preliminary investigation information indicates a potential materiel failure caused the mishap, but the underlying cause of the failure is unknown at this time. The stand down will provide time and space for a thorough investigation to determine causal factors and recommendations to ensure the Air Force CV-22 fleet returns to flight operations.”
The term “materiel failure” implies that the crash resulted from an issue within the aircraft itself rather than errors made by the airmen on board. Consequently, both the U.S. Air Force and Navy have suspended operations of their respective Osprey fleets, including the Marine Corps variant.
Naval Air Systems Command, in a separate release, affirmed the grounding of the Navy’s Ospreys and stated, “The Joint Program Office continues to communicate and collaborate with all V-22 stakeholders and customers, including allied partners.”
The fatal crash occurred during a “routine training mission” conducted by the Airmen of the 353rd Special Operations Wing off the shores of Yakushima, Japan. While the remains of six airmen have been recovered, two are still unaccounted for.
In response to the incident, Japan has also grounded its own Ospreys, expressing apprehension about the aircraft’s safety. This latest crash has rekindled concerns about the Osprey, which has witnessed several fatal accidents over the years. Last year, the Air Force Special Operations Command temporarily grounded its Ospreys for two weeks due to an “increased number of safety incidents” related to hard clutch engagements, though the Marine Corps did not follow suit at that time. The ongoing investigation aims to uncover the root cause of the crash and implement recommendations to ensure the safety of Osprey operations in the future.