An Air Force special operations CV-22B Osprey crashed off the coast of Japan on Wednesday, and the Japanese Coast Guard told the Associated Press that one of the U.S. service members aboard the aircraft has been recovered and pronounced dead.
The Osprey came from Yokota Air Base, Japan and it was assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Wing, according to Air Force Special Operations Command, or AFSOC. The aircraft was flying a routine mission when it went down off Yakushima Island, Japan with eight Air Force personnel on board.
“The crew’s conditions are unknown at this time,” an AFSOC statement says. “Emergency personnel are on scene conducting search and rescue operations. The cause of the mishap is currently unknown.”
An AFSOC spokesperson was unable to confirm on Wednesday that one of the Osprey’s crew members had been confirmed dead.
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Wednesday’s mishap marks the second crash in roughly three weeks involving U.S. special operators. On Nov 10 five members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment were killed when their MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in the Mediterranean Sea during a training flight.
This is also the latest crash involving an Osprey, which is designed to hover like a helicopter and fly like an airplane. Three Marines were killed in August when their MV-22B Osprey went down in Australia. Another four Marines died in March 2022 when their MV-22B crashed in Norway.
Both the Air Force and the Marine Corps have found that Ospreys can suffer a type of engine failure known as a “dual hard clutch engagement,” or HCE which can cause the aircraft’s engine to seize and tear itself apart in flight.
Although these types of engine failures are relatively rare, one HCE caused an MV-22B crash in June 2022 that killed five Marines.
The Osprey has had other notable problems during its development, when four aircraft crashed, killing a total of 30 people.
The Marine officer in charge of the Corps’ V-22 program was relieved in January 2001 after he admitted to falsifying maintenance records for Ospreys. Ultimately, three Marines were found guilty of misconduct, of which two received letters of reprimand.
The Osprey program was also halted for 11 days in 2003 to replace faulty titanium tubing at a cost of $4 million. Two years later, a company was indicted for falsely certifying the quality of the tubes.
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