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Congressional Committee Launches Probe into V-22 Osprey Program Following Fatal Crash in Japan

by Anna

A congressional oversight committee has initiated an investigation into the V-22 Osprey program in the wake of a tragic crash in Japan that claimed the lives of eight Air Force special operations service members. The incident has prompted concerns over the safety and design of the Osprey fleet, leading to its complete grounding, with only limited Marine Corps flights permitted in emergencies.

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The Nov. 29 crash, which resulted in the death of eight service members, marked the latest in a series of Osprey accidents. Over the program’s lifespan, more than 50 U.S. service members have lost their lives in Osprey crashes, with 20 of those fatalities occurring in four crashes over the last 20 months. Critics have raised alarms about potential fatal design flaws in the Osprey, a unique airframe capable of functioning as both a helicopter and an airplane.

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The government of Japan, the only international partner operating the Osprey, has also grounded its aircraft following the tragic incident.

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Accountability, chaired by Kentucky Republican James Comer, has issued a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, requesting comprehensive documentation on the Osprey’s safety record. The committee aims to receive the requested information by January 4, expressing concerns about known mechanical issues and the safety of servicemembers operating the Osprey.

“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,” Chairman Comer stated in the letter.

Operational since 2007, the Osprey has become a key asset for the Marine Corps and Air Force Special Operations Command. It was in the process of being adopted by the Navy to replace the C-2 Greyhound propeller planes for carrier operations at sea.

The Air Force, shortly after the Nov. 29 crash, attributed the incident to a malfunction of the aircraft rather than a crew mistake. Persistent questions surround a mechanical problem with the Osprey’s clutch, which has troubled the program for over a decade. Concerns also persist regarding the manufacturing of all parts to safety specifications and their ability to withstand the forces generated by the unique structure and dynamics of tiltrotor flight.

The grounding of Marine Corps Ospreys has even affected operations involving White House staff, press, and security personnel accompanying the president, highlighting the broad impact of safety concerns surrounding the Osprey program.

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