Australia's defense ministry has confirmed the missing MV-22 Osprey has been found in waters off the northeast coast. It crashed during a training exercise with the loss of three US marines.
The Australian Navy ship HMAS Melville found the missing US Marines MV-22 Osprey aircraft overnight on Sunday. It crashed during a training exercise north of Rockhampton on the northeast coast on Saturday.
The Osprey had been launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship, when it was reported to have hit the deck of the USS Green Bay before sliding into the water with 26 people on board. An official reason for the cause of the crash has yet to be given.
Three Marines were reported missing after the crash.
The Australian Defence Force had been supporting the "US-led recovery operations following the MV-22 Osprey incident in Shoalwater Bay on Saturday," a defense ministry statement announced on Monday. "HMAS Melville arrived to Shoalwater Bay overnight. Shortly after commencing survey operations in the area, the submerged aircraft was located." Navy divers used remotely operated underwater vehicles to conduct the search.
The families of the three missing US Marines were informed on Sunday that the search for survivors had been called off and replaced with a recovery operation.
Crashes and high-cost history
The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft which takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies like an airplane. A number of the aircraft have been involved in a series of high-profile crashes in recent years.
Developed by Bell Helicopter and Boeing Helicopters, the first crash during testing was reported in 1991 with three more before 2000 with a total of 30 fatalities.
Since it became operational in 2007 there have been five crashes and several other accidents and incidents to date, leading to a further nine fatalities.
In its commentary on Monday, Fortune magazine called the Osprey crash the "latest in a decades-long string of serious mishaps," saying the "tilt-rotor aircraft has been persistently criticized as wildly expensive, ineffective and unsafe."
Japanese concerns on Okinawa
After a flight in one of the Osprey heli-planes, Japan's new defense minister Itsunori Onodera expressed "many concerns" about it to the US military and asked for a temporary halt to flights of the aircraft in Japan.
It was an Okinawa-based aircraft which crashed while in Australia as part of the Talisman Sabre exercise, which has just ended in Queensland state.
"We have still many concerns," Onodera said during a meeting with Major General Charles Chiarotti, deputy commander of US Forces in Japan, according to a defense ministry spokesman.
A squadron of Ospreys is stationed at the US Marines' Futenma base on the island of Okinawa, south of Japan's main islands.
jm/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP)