Camp Pendleton Squadrons Start Training with Osprey Again After Aircraft’s Grounding Is Lifted

U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey takes off at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey takes off during an Amphibious Raid course at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, May 17, 2022. (Nicolas Atehortua/U.S. Marine Corps)

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the number of airmen killed in the November Osprey crash.

Osprey pilots and air and maintenance crews with the 3rd Marine Airwing are training with MV-22 Ospreys again after the tiltrotor aircraft was grounded for three months following a November crash of an Air Force Special Operations aircraft that killed eight people.

There are six squadrons that make up the 3rd Marine Air Wing at Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, and officials said those first to fly again are those that are next to deploy – the VMM-165 will soon deploy with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Marine Corps wide there are 17 squadrons using more than 300 of the Osprey aircraft, more than any other branch.

“They will all be conducting a deliberate, methodical, conditions-based approach for return to flight in order to safely and confidently return this critical assault support aircraft to providing its unmatched speed, range, flexibility, and maneuver,” said Lt. Col. Brian Block, a Marine spokesman for the I Marine Expeditionary Force. The Osprey can fly faster than helicopters and land in tighter spots.

The grounding, which also included the Air Force and Navy, was lifted on Friday, March 8, by Naval Air Systems Command officials. It had been in place since Dec. 6, shortly after the Air Force Osprey crashed off the coast of Japan.

The investigation into the accident is still underway, but a part failure appears to be in play, Marine officials said, adding that the pause provided time for a thorough review of the crash and formulation of risk mitigation controls to return the aircraft to flight operations safely.

After thoroughly reviewing engineering data and revisions to the flight manuals where more safety procedures have been added, the Marines said they are confident the Ospreys can safely return to total capacity.

The Japan crash was the latest in a string of recent crashes.

In August, three Camp Pendleton Marines died when an Osprey burst into flames after crashing on a remote tropical island in Australia’s Northern Territory. In June 2022, five Marines from Camp Pendleton’s “Purple Foxes” MMT Squadron 364 died during aerial gunfire training on a desert range 115 miles from San Diego. A year later, a 400-page report found that a drive system failure caused the crash.

Since 2012, there have been five fatal crashes in which 17 people died from the Marine Corps.

“Close coordination among key senior leaders across all three services, the Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, and the Safety Investigation Board has been paramount in formulating the comprehensive review and return to flight plan,” Marine officials said in a statement Friday.

Block said air crews have been training in simulators to stay current, and Marines maintenance crews have continued to ensure the aircraft are in top shape.

As the Ospreys return to flight, pilots and aircrew will retrain on basic skills before advancing to higher-level missions, Block said. Training is expected to take longer now, and it could take until early summer before all units are trained up, he said.

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