WASHINGTON (Agencies): A temporary flight ban on the controversial V-22 Osprey aircraft has been lifted by the US military as investigators still work to nail down the cause of last year’s deadly crashes.

Taylor refused to elaborate further, citing security concerns relating to the plane’s unique design.
All Osprey aircraft were grounded by the US Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps in November after a deadly crash off the coast of Japan claimed the lives of eight service members. The incident was the plane’s second mishap in 2023 following another crash in Australia that killed three. The Osprey also suffered a pair of deadly accidents the year before, one of which has been blamed on a problem with the aircraft’s clutch.

The plane has claimed the lives of more than 50 US service members altogether in various crashes since its initial deployment in 2007.
The Osprey’s convoluted design allows it to take off vertically like a helicopter and then rotate its wings to fly at the speed of a prop plane. The difficulty of operating the aircraft has led to a series of accidents attributed to pilot error.
But observers have long blamed material failure as well, with the plane being grounded several times as investigators examine its components. Witnesses of November’s fatal crash say one of the Osprey’s engines caught fire before the aircraft plummeted into the ocean.
Air Force Special Operations Command Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, who oversaw the eight airmen killed in November’s accident, believes the event was caused by material failure. He hopes revamped training and maintenance protocols can prevent a similar incident in the future. But Bauernfeind notes the Osprey’s hardware will see no changes before returning to service.

The V-22 Osprey is prized within the US armed forces for its ability to ferry troops and supplies to locations lacking traditional runways, such as remote islands in the Pacific. The United States is pursuing a renewed focus on the region amidst concerns over the economic rise of Russia and China.
The US Army announced a major restructuring last week to prepare the force for “large-scale combat” in the Pacific region. The US also sold a $75 million weapons package to authorities in Taiwan recently allowing the island’s armed forces to more easily integrate with weapons systems in the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.
The US has long worked to pursue cooperation among these and other countries in the Pacific to prepare for potential conflict with China. 2023’s two Osprey accidents share the commonality of both taking place in that region, where the United States’ military buildup has caused consternation for Beijing.

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