As the US military called off its search for three missing marines involved in a crash off Queensland’s coast, a former US Airforce special operative says the type of aircraft involved is inherently dangerous.
A MV-22 Osprey crashed into the sea at around 4pm on Saturday off Shoalwater Bay near Rockhampton during a joint US-Australian military training exercise.
The incident is the 10th known crash involving an Osprey since 1991, and the sixth since it officially came into service in 2007.
“It’s had a poor history, it’s perceived to be risky because it takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies like an aeroplane,” ex-US Airforce crew member Ron Bishop told The New Daily.
“There’s a lot of torque and a lot of stress and a lot of issues. There’s a lot of things that could go wrong.”
During its testing phase between 1991 and 2000, there were 30 fatalities, including that of 23 Marines during flight testing in 2000.
“Anytime you fly a military aircraft you push it to the edge of performance, and with it being new technology it combines the risk of a helicopter and an aeroplane,” Mr Bishop said.
“It combines all the issues of a fixed wing matched with those of a rotor aircraft. It’s just adding the two together.”
The US Navy and Marine Corp said on Sunday it did not expect to find the three missing marines alive and would instead focus on salvage and recovery, with help from the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
“Operations have now shifted to recovery efforts,” the US Marine Corp said in a statement.
“The next of kin for the three missing marines have been notified.”
“The transition comes after teams led continuous sustained search efforts supported by aircraft and ships.
“The circumstances of the mishap are currently under investigation, and there is no additional information available at this time.”
The three missing soldiers were among 26 personnel onboard. The remainder survived and were rescued safely.
The crashed aircraft launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship, on Saturday and was on regularly scheduled operations when it hit the water.
The ship’s small boats and aircraft were immediately deployed into a search before it was called off on Sunday morning.
The Queensland Ambulance Service said it transported one of the marines involved to Rockhampton Hospital with a fractured leg, but it is not known how many others onboard were injured.
There were no ADF personnel on the aircraft, said Australia’s Minister for Defence Marise Payne.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk offered her government’s assistance in the recovery effort.
“On behalf of all Queenslanders, our prayers are with those US military personnel involved in the incident,” she said in a statement.
In December last year, five US Marines had to be rescued after their Osprey was forced to land in shallow waters off Okinawa, Japan, after a rotor blade cut a refuelling hose. No one was killed in the accident.
Meanwhile in January, three US soldiers were injured in what was described as a “hard landing” of the aircraft in Yemen.
It comes after a deadly crash of an Osprey in the US in April 2000, where 19 people were killed.
It is potentially the worst military accident in Australia since the 1996 Black Hawk tragedy that killed 18 servicemen near Townsville.
The Osprey was labelled a “flying shame” by Time magazine upon its launch due to concerns it was unsafe and could not shoot straight.
Each unit costs an estimated $72 million.
US President Donald Trump, who is currently on a 17-day “working vacation” at his New Jersey golf club, has been briefed on the incident, a White House official told reporters.
– with AAP