A US CV-22 Osprey has been stuck on the Norwegian island of Senja since Aug. 12. Photo by the Norwegian Armed Forces.
An Air Force CV-22 Osprey had to make an emergency landing on a remote Norwegian island almost a month ago.
It’s still there.
A spokeswoman for Air Force Special Operations Command, or AFSOC, confirmed to Coffee or Die Magazine that a CV-22 remained stranded in a nature reserve on Senja, an island just off the northern coast of Norway. The Osprey is from the 7th Special Operations Squadron in Mildenhall, UK, and was participating in a military exercise on Aug. 12 when the tilt-rotor transport was forced to make an emergency landing, Lt. Col. Rebecca Heyse said.
The aircraft touched down in the nature reserve and has been stuck there ever since. The island has no roads that access the landing site, and officials said repairing the Osprey couldn’t be done in the field. At well over 30,000 pounds, the Osprey is too heavy to lift out.
A CV-22B Osprey, based out of Royal Air Force Mildenhall, UK, takes off from Rygge Air Station, Norway, during a training mission on Aug. 25, 2020. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn.
Since the emergency landing in Norway, US and Norwegian officials have been brainstorming options to recover the aircraft without damaging the nature reserve, according to the country's public broadcaster, Norsk rikskringkasting AS, or NRK.
Royal Norwegian Air Force Col. Eirik Stueland told NRK that a road, ramp, and jetty must be built to get the aircraft off the island.
The Air Force confirmed that the emergency landing on Senja was one of two recent incidents that caused AFSOC to ground its 52 Ospreys last month. "I can confirm that the emergency [landing] was one of the incidents that caused the CV-22 safety standdown," said Heyse. "The aircraft is suspected to have had a hard clutch engagement."
In announcing the groundings, the Air Force said both recent incidents and two others since 2017 had involved hard clutch engagements, an engine malfunction that could cause one of the aircraft’s propellers to lose power, potentially causing a crash. Pilots are trained to land immediately if the malfunction occurs.
321st Special Tactics Squadron Airmen return a simulated downed crew member back to a CV-22B Osprey, based out of Royal Air Force Mildenhall, UK, during a training exercise near Bodø, Norway, Aug. 27, 2020. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn.
AFSOC cleared the Osprey fleet to return to flying late last week.
When AFSOC grounded its CV-22s, the Marine Corps opted to keep its Ospreys — which it calls MV-22s — in the air but acknowledged that the clutch issue also affected its aircraft. The clutch issue remains unresolved for both services, but the AFSOC Ospreys are back in the air with new protocols in place.
One key mitigation step, Heyse told Air Force Times, is making sure pilots pause right after taking off and before throttling to full thrust so that the clutch doesn’t slip.
As for the Osprey in Norway, it’s still stuck.
Heyse said US officials had decided on a course of action and expect the aircraft should be recovered in about a month after plans are finalized.
A Norwegian military official said the current plan was to move the plane by boat. “As of now, the sea route is plan A,” Odd Helge Wang, the chief sergeant for Norway’s 139 Air Wing, told NRK. “It’s quite complicated to carry out technically, and something neither we nor the Americans have done before.”
Editor's note: This story was updated to include confirmation received after publication from Air Force officials that the Osprey's emergency landing involved a hard clutch engagement.
Jenna Biter is a staff writer at Coffee or Die Magazine. She has a master’s degree in national security and is a Russian language student. When she’s not writing, Jenna can be found reading classics, running, or learning new things, like the constellations in the night sky. Her husband is on active duty in the US military. Know a good story about national security or the military? Email Jenna.
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