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US military has grounded entire Osprey V-22 fleet; here's why

The Osprey V-22 fleet has been grounded following a fatal crash off the coast of Japan that claimed the lives of eight Air Force Special Operations Command members. Preliminary investigations suggest a materiel failure, prompting concerns about the safety of the Osprey, a hybrid aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities

US military has grounded Osprey V-22 fleet; here's why
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First Published Dec 7, 2023, 10:10 AM IST

In the aftermath of a crash off the coast of Japan that claimed the lives of eight Air Force Special Operations Command service members, the military has taken the unprecedented step of grounding all Osprey V-22 helicopters. The decision comes one week after the incident, prompting concerns about the safety of the Osprey, a hybrid aircraft known for its vertical takeoff and landing capabilities.

Preliminary findings from the investigation into the crash pointed towards a material failure, suggesting a mechanical issue with the aircraft rather than human error by the crew. Lt Gen Tony Bauernfeind, head of Air Force Special Operations Command, directed the grounding to "mitigate risk while the investigation continues." The exact cause of the material failure is yet to be determined.

The standdown affects not only the Air Force but also the Navy and Marine Corps, collectively grounding hundreds of Ospreys. Japan, where the crash occurred, has additionally grounded its fleet of 14 Ospreys as a precautionary measure.

US military has grounded Osprey V-22 fleet; here's why

The Naval Air Systems Command, responsible for the Marine Corps and Navy variants of the Osprey, announced the grounding in a separate notice. The duration of the grounding remains uncertain, with officials stating it will persist until the investigation concludes and recommendations are made to ensure the fleet's safe return to operations.

The Osprey, a US-made hybrid aircraft combining helicopter takeoff and landing with airplane-like cruising capabilities, has faced scrutiny for safety concerns. With over 50 deaths related to Osprey incidents, including four crashes in the past 20 months, the military acknowledges the need for a thorough investigation into the recent Japan crash and other incidents. 

Despite being in service since 2007, the Osprey continues to be a focus of scrutiny and investigation. The grounding is a precautionary measure aimed at ensuring the safety and integrity of the Osprey fleet.

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