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Congress to Investigate Osprey Program After Crash Kills Eight in Japan 

3 minute read

After a deadly crash in Yakushima, Japan killed eight Air Force servicemen in late November, a congressional oversight committee has launched an investigation into the V-22 Osprey program. 

The fleet of Ospreys is still temporarily grounded in order to investigate the “causal factors,” of the Nov. 29 crash, according to an Air Force commander, but the most recent accident is just one of more than a dozen Osprey crashes since 1992.

“Considering the recent Osprey crash off the shore of Yakushima, Japan, in addition to other crashes during the lifetime of this airframe, the Committee remains concerned about safety and performance issues surrounding the Osprey program,” wrote House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer in a press release on Thursday. 

Comer also sent a letter to U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, asking for documents and information related to the Osprey’s safety, maintenance, reliability and more on Thursday.  Austin has until Jan. 4 to submit the paperwork. 

More than 50 service members have been killed over the last 30 years. And most of the fatalities have occurred during training exercises, as opposed to combat. 

Ospreys are military aircrafts that have a vertical take off and landing, meaning they can fly like a helicopter and an airplane. The production team behind the V-22 Osprey consists of 500 U.S.-based suppliers, and 27,000 employees. Due to the aircraft’s versatility and quick speed—an Osprey can carry two-dozen troops twice as fast and five times farther than previous helicopters—they are an attractive choice for different military operations. 

The House Committee previously attempted to investigate the Osprey program, holding a hearing in 2009, but attempts to look into the future of the aircraft were stalled because the Department of Defense failed to provide substantial information and documentation before the hearing.

Prior to this most recent accident in Japan, the Department of Defense inspector general found that Ospreys suffer from engine failure and reduced visibility. Crashes due to faulty gearboxes have also been recorded. Attempts to redesign the Navy’s version of the Osprey over the past nine years have proven unsuccessful, according to the press release.

“Further concern is warranted because the Department of Defense (DoD) grounded its entire fleet of Ospreys to mitigate risks. It is crucial for the safety of our servicemembers to ensure transparency, accountability, and a thorough understanding of the steps DoD is taking to mitigate any further mechanical risks,” Comer wrote.

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