U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command [AFSOC], ordered an “operational shutdown” of the U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey fleet on Dec. 6, 2023, to mitigate potential operational risks while the investigation continues into the downing of an Osprey from the 353rd Operations Wing of the U.S. Air Force, Nov. 29, in Japan.
The decision was made by Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, AFSOC commander, as the investigation into the Nov. 29, 2023, CV-22 mishap near Yakushima, Japan, continues.
— Air Force Special Operations Command (@AFSpecOpsCmd) December 7, 2023
Preliminary information from the investigation indicates that a possible material failure caused the accident, but the underlying cause of the failure is unknown at this time. The shutdown will provide time and space for a thorough investigation to determine causal factors and recommendations to ensure the Air Force CV-22 fleet returns to flight operations.
According to Japanese media, eyewitnesses stated that the aircraft’s left engine was on fire at the time of the incident. The balance of the accident amounts to six crew members dead and two missing, whose remains could not yet be recovered. After the recovery of the personnel, the rescue forces will focus their efforts on salvaging the wreckage of the aircraft.
Both the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) and the U.S. Navy Naval Air Command (NAVAIR) also decided to suspend operations of their fleets of Osprey aircraft, “in the interest of prudence, until the causes of the fatal V-22 Osprey accident off the coast of Yakushima (Japan) are determined and recommendations are made for returning these aircraft to normal operational status.
Out of an abundance of caution, following the AFSOC operational stand down, NAVAIR is instituting a grounding bulletin for all V-22 Osprey variants Dec. 6. This decision comes after the V-22 Osprey mishap on Nov. 29, off the shore of Yakushima, Japan.
— NAVAIR (@NAVAIRNews) December 7, 2023
According to the AP news agency, more than 50 military personnel have died in test or training flights in V-22 family aircraft, 20 of them in four accidents in the last 20 months. There is also the loss of three U.S. Marines in an Osprey crash in Australia in August. That accident is also under investigation.