Marine Corps Osprey Lands on Australian Warship, 3 Months After Flight Ban Was Lifted

June 12, 2024
The Osprey has been plagued by a problem called hard clutch engagement that caused loss of control in some instances and was blamed for the deaths of five Marines in a June 2022 Osprey crash in California.

Jun. 12—An MV-22 Osprey touched down on an Australian warship last week, another indicator the tiltrotor is returning to routine service with the Marine Corps after a series of deadly crashes.

The aircraft — part of Marine Rotational Force-Darwin — landed aboard the HMAS Adelaide on June 4 as it cruised off Australia's northern coast, Capt. Edwin Myers, who commanded a detachment of Marines on the helicopter flight deck, told Stars and Stripes by phone Tuesday.

The U.S. military grounded its fleet of about 400 Ospreys between Dec. 6 and March 8 as it investigated the Nov. 29 crash of an Air Force CV-22 Osprey that killed eight airmen off Japan's southern coast.

An Osprey assigned to last year's Marine rotational force crashed in August north of Darwin, in Australia's Northern Territory, killing three Marines and injuring 20 others, three seriously.

Neither accident investigation report has been released, although the Air Force initially found "a materiel failure of a V-22 component" in the November crash, according to a March 8 news release from the Pentagon, which did not identify the component.

The Osprey has been plagued by a problem called hard clutch engagement that caused loss of control in some instances and was blamed for the deaths of five Marines in a June 2022 Osprey crash in California.

After the November crash, the Marines put their Ospreys in the air again less than a week after Naval Air Systems Command cleared them for flight on March 8. Navy Ospreys are not yet flying passengers to aircraft flight decks, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Air Force Special Operations Command, whose tiltrotor crashed in southern Japan, has yet to resume flying its aircraft stationed in the country.

Ten Ospreys assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 (Reinforced), based at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, arrived in Darwin last month to join the annual six-month training rotation of about 2,000 Marines.

The crew of the aircraft that landed on the Adelaide were making their first trip to the vessel, the squadron's commander, Lt. Col. Brandon "Jammer" Pope, said by email Tuesday.

"All were experienced shipboard pilots with years of experience landing on multiple types of ships," he said. "Shipboard landings are a key skill we maintain as a maritime force."

Since the helicopter-plane hybrids returned to flight, the squadron's pilots have completed a warmup syllabus before advancing into unit-level training, Pope said.

"From night system training to low altitude tactics, shipboard operations are just another core skill we continue to train across the squadron," he said.

The return to flight has been methodical to re-establish the aircrew proficiency required to safely execute training such as the deck landing, Pope said.

"Since arriving in Darwin, we have invested heavily into the proficiency and training of our aircrew and are now starting large scale aviation operations," he said.

Two Ospreys rendezvoused with 38 Marines and a Navy corpsman who arrived June 8 in Townsville, Queensland, on the amphibious ship. The aircraft flew the troops 1,500 miles to Darwin, Myers said.

Forty-seven Marines, the corpsman and three Navy medical officers departed Darwin on the warship June 3, he said.

"The ship is a little more spacious than what we are used to on an American ship, but the capability is similar," Myers said. "The Australian amphibious force has similar methods to the U.S. Marines."

The Marines and sailors on the ship worked with the amphibious force, akin to a Marine expeditionary unit, that helps Australian army units conduct amphibious operations, he said.

Logistics Marines brought a pair of Humvees aboard. At sea, the Marines and Australian troops practiced moving the vehicles onto landing craft as they would in a ship-to-shore movement, Myers said.

The Marines practiced target shooting from the warship and established an operations center that allowed them to communicate with their headquarters in Darwin, he said.

During the trip, the Marines called in theoretical strikes on simulated targets at sea and on shore, Myers said.

"It proved that regardless of what ship Marines find themselves on, we can be combat effective," he said.

The medical officers and logistics Marines remained on the Adelaide to work with about 500 Australian troops who on Saturday will practice moving from the ship to a beach north of Townsville, Myers said.


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