US military might lift ban on flying Ospreys

The potential return to normal operations would come three months after an Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22 crashed, killing eight on board.
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FILE: A CV-22 Osprey assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command prepares to land during an aerial demonstration at Wittman Regional Airport, Wis., July 30, 2021. (Senior Airman Miranda Mahoney/U.S. Air Force)

V-22 Ospreys could soon be flying again in the coming week. That’s according to the Associated Press, which reported yesterday that the Pentagon is preparing to let different branches of the military implement plans to start Osprey operations in the next few days. It would mean a return to normal V-22 flights three months after the military’s fleet of Ospreys was grounded following a fatal Air Force Special Operations crash

The move comes after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved proposals from the different branches on how to restart Osprey operations, the Associated Press said. The report cites multiple anonymous officials familiar with the plans, who report that the final decision rests with Naval Air Systems Command. According to the report, the ban could be lifted as early as next week, once the head of Naval Air Systems Command meets with Japanese officials. 

When Task & Purpose contacted the Department of Defense for confirmation of the Associated Press story, a department spokesperson said that the Pentagon did not have an update as of this time. 

The flight ban was put in place after the Nov. 29 crash near Yakushima Island, Japan. The “Gundam 22” crash killed eight Air Force Special Operations Command personnel. Search and rescue teams later recovered the CV-22’s fuselage and several remains of the crew. Japan, which also operates 14 Ospreys, grounded its own V-22 fleet as a result. Last month the Pentagon said it had identified the specific mechanical issue behind the Gundam 22 crash but did not say what it was or if a fix was found. Since then, the Associated Press reports, military branches built out new checklists and guidelines for flying V-22s meant to avoid further mishaps. 

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A memorial for the deceased members of the Gundam-22 flight was held at Yokota Air Base last month. 

The fatal Nov. 29 crash was one of several aerial mishaps in the U.S. military in the last two years, many of which involved V-22 Ospreys. In August 2023, a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey crashed off of Australia, killing three Marines and injuring 20 others. Five Marines were killed in an Osprey crash in June 2022. 

The ban on flights impacted Marine Corps, Navy and AFSOC operations. The Marine Corps has approximately 360 MV-22 Ospreys, while AFSOC flies roughly 50 CV-22s. The Navy operates just over two dozen CMV-22s. Since the tiltrotor crafts were grounded, Marines have been using heavy lift helicopters to ferry equipment and personnel. 

The Osprey’s issues have been an ongoing issue for the military. In February 2023, the military briefly grounded V-22s following a series of mishaps stemming from hard clutch engagement issues. That came in turn after the military said that it had developed a workaround — not a fix — for air crews to avoid the issue. But the Osprey fleet suffered two more fatal mishaps before the general grounding.

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