The Marine Corps fleet of MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors remains operational in the wake of a May 17 crash that killed one and injured more than a dozen other Marines.
An MV-22 assigned to the 15 Marine Expeditionary Unit experienced a “hard-landing mishap” shortly before noon on Sunday during a training flight at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows in Hawaii.
One Marine among 22 onboard the aircraft was killed in the crash. The other 22 passengers were transported to local hospitals for treatment. Reports from local Hawaiian news outlets show a thick plume of black smoke and scattered wreckage.
A Marine Corps spokesman based in Quantico, Va., confirmed to Defense Daily that the fleet has not been grounded and all other aircraft remain operational.
The downed Osprey departed San Diego with the 15th MEU aboard the USS Essex (LHD-2) amphibious assault ship on May 10 for a seven-month deployment to the Pacific Command and Central Command areas of operation, which include the Pacific and Indian oceans, the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.
Marine Corps Base Hawaii formally notified nearby residents on May 15 of an upcoming training exercise that would include amphibious operation and air training at Bellows. The news release warned of intermittent training noise and an increase in vehicular traffic.
The Osprey, which can takeoff, land and hover like a helicopter and fly fast like a plane, has a history of fatal mishaps. Dozens of personnel were killed during its initial testing phase, but the aircraft’s safety record has greatly improved since its introduction into service in 2007. The Marines now swear by the V-22, as it gives them greater range and speed than traditional helicopters. The Air Force also flies CV-22s in support of Special Operations Command.
The Defense Department recently announced the stationing of a squadron of CV-22s at Yakota Air Base in Japan. The first of three aircraft are scheduled to arrive in late 2017 and an additional seven will join them by 2021.
In January the Navy announced plans to replace the C-2 Greyhound carrier onboard delivery aircraft with the V-22. The service will buy at least 48 Ospreys beginning in fiscal 2017.
The V-22 mishap is the second fatal aircraft crash for the Marine Corps in a week. Six Marines and two Nepalese military personnel were killed when the UH-1Y Huey they were flying in crashed near Kathmandu Nepal.
The twin-engine, four blade UH-1Y crashed about 8 miles north of Chrikot, Nepal, while performing casualty evacuations following the May 12 magnitude 7.3 earthquake there, the second major tremor to strike the mountainous nation. All eight bodies have been recovered from the crash site, the Department of Defense said May 15.
The aircraft belonged to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, from Camp Pendleton, Calif., and arrived in Nepal directly from Exercise Balikatan 2015, which was underway in the Philippines. V-22s are built by a Bell Helicopter Textron [TXT]-Boeing [BA] team.