The MV-22 Osprey’s mission for the US Marine Corps is the transportation of troops, equipment, and supplies from ships and land bases for combat assault and assault support. US Navy photo.
The Marine Corps will not ground its fleet of MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor transports or otherwise alter their operations, the service said in a statement Thursday, Aug. 18. The announcement came two days after the Air Force grounded its fleet of Ospreys — which it calls CV-22s — after two similar engine failures in six weeks.
The mechanical issue involves a clutch inside the Osprey's transmission, which can cause one of the aircraft's two propellers to lose thrust, possibly causing a crash. Both Air Force failures, the service said, resulted in more than $2.5 million in damage.
"The hard clutch issue has been known to the Marine Corps since 2010," said Marine Maj. Jim Stenger in a statement. "We have trained our pilots to react with the appropriate emergency control measures should the issue arise during flight."
Stenger said MV-22s have logged 533,000 flight hours without a catastrophic event caused by the clutch issue.
Marines from 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, and soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, embark on an MV-22 Osprey with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268, Marine Aircraft Group 24, on Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii, Nov. 30, 2021. US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Patrick King.
"The deputy commandant for aviation has also issued interim guidance to the Fleet Marine Forces implementing a procedure to help in the early recognition of a pending hard clutch engagement," Stenger said.
The Air Force flies 52 Ospreys in special operations roles, while the Marines have more than 300, Stenger said.
At least two Ospreys have suffered fatal crashes in 2022. In March, four Marines died in a crash Norway. That crash was determined to be fault of pilot error in unfamiliar mountains. In June, a crash on a desert range in California killed five Marines.
In February, a pair of Air Force Ospreys appeared to make a secret trip into Poland to collect the American ambassador to Ukraine and staff.
Uniquely, Ospreys fly using a tilt-rotor system that allows them to travel long distances at high speed like airplanes but hover and land vertically like helicopters.
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Matt White is a former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism.
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