CV-22 Ospreys assigned to the 21st Special Operations Squadron approach an MC-130J Commando II for aerial refueling over the Sea of Japan on March 17, 2023.

CV-22 Ospreys assigned to the 21st Special Operations Squadron approach an MC-130J Commando II for aerial refueling over the Sea of Japan on March 17, 2023. (Trevor Gordnier/U.S. Air Force)

Members of the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday asked a federal watchdog agency to investigate safety issues concerning Osprey tiltrotor aircraft in the wake of last week’s deadly crash off the coast of Japan.

Eight airmen died in the Nov. 29 crash of an Air Force CV-22B Osprey.

Reps. John Garamendi, D-Calif., and Mike Waltz, R-Fla., sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office urging a review into the cause of this most recent accident as well as earlier incidents, according to a news release from Garamendi’s office.

Garamendi is the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee’s subpanel on readiness. Waltz is the subpanel’s chairman.

Ospreys are hybrid aircraft that take off and land as a helicopter, but once in the air its propellers can be rotated forward so that it can fly like a fixed-wing plane. The Marine Corps fielded its first Osprey in 2007, and the Air Force did so two years later.

The Japan crash “comes after numerous mishaps involving the Osprey aircraft, resulting in the tragic loss of over 50 service members,” the news release states.

Other recent Osprey fatalities were in August, when three Marines died in an accident in Australia, and in June 2022, when five Marines perished in a crash about 115 miles east of San Diego.

On Wednesday, the Defense Department grounded all Ospreys used by the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy.

“Preliminary investigation information indicates a potential materiel failure caused the mishap, but the underlying cause of the failure is unknown at this time,” the Navy said in a Wednesday news release regarding the groundings. “While the mishap remains under investigation, we are implementing additional risk mitigation controls to ensure the safety of our service members.”

In the lawmakers’ letter, they ask the GAO to search for trends in causes of Osprey accidents and mishaps, as well to investigate issues of maintenance and supply that “negatively impact availability rates” of the aircraft.

They also ask for an assessment of the extent to which each service uses “risk management procedures to mitigate potential accidents.”

More broadly, the lawmakers want the GAO to determine what steps the Defense Department, the services and the V-22 Joint Program Office have taken to reduce or prevent accidents involving Ospreys and what additional steps are warranted.

author picture
Wyatt Olson is based in the Honolulu bureau, where he has reported on military and security issues in the Indo-Pacific since 2014. He was Stars and Stripes’ roving Pacific reporter from 2011-2013 while based in Tokyo. He was a freelance writer and journalism teacher in China from 2006-2009.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now