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US Colonel has ‘utmost confidence’ in Ospreys as they land in Darwin

written by Staff reporter | May 15, 2024

U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Ospreys assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 (Reinforced), Marine Rotational Force – Darwin 24.3, take off for the first flight of the MRF-D 24.3 rotation at Port Darwin, Darwin, NT, Australia, May 11, 2024. (Image: US Marine Corps/1st Lt. Colton Martin)

A US Marine Corps Colonel has expressed “utmost confidence” in the MV-22B Osprey aircraft as a squadron begins operating from Darwin.

Col. Brian T. Mulvihill, the commanding officer of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) 24.3, said he backed the tilt-rotor aircraft, which was grounded for three months after being involved in two fatal incidents last year.

“I have the utmost confidence in the reliability of the aircraft and the capabilities of our pilots and crews,” he said.

“The well-being of our Marines and sailors is always a priority, and we have spared no effort in ensuring that they are prepared for the missions ahead.”

Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 (Reinforced) landed in Darwin on 11 May as part of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), finalising the formation of the 13th rotation of MRF-D.

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“The arrival of the Ospreys to Darwin brings together the full capabilities of the MAGTF and amplifies our interoperability opportunities with the Australian Defence Force,” said Mulvihill.

“As a MAGTF, the Ospreys give us an over-the-horizon capability that, alongside our Australian allies, enhances security in the region.”

The MV-22B joint service multi-role combat aircraft, which can take off and hover like a helicopter before transitioning to turboprop aircraft flight, was given the green light by US Naval Air Systems Command to return to service on 8 March after being out of service since December.

Eight personnel were killed when a US Air Force V-22A Osprey suffered a materiel failure to a V-22 component and crashed off the coast of Japan near Yakushima Island on 29 November 2023. The aircraft were then grounded from 6 December while investigations were undertaken into the cause of the crash.

An MV-22B Osprey aircraft also crashed near Melville Island, 60 kilometres off the coast from Darwin during Exercise Predators Run in August 2023. That tilt-rotor aircraft had previously appeared at Gold Coast Pacific Airshow earlier in the year.

A US Naval Air Systems Command official said in March that a thorough review had been undertaken to ensure the aircraft is safe, and each service branch had performed different processes in returning the aircraft to operation.

“This decision follows a meticulous and data-driven approach prioritising the safety of our aircrews,” the Navy official said.

“Maintenance and procedural changes have been implemented to address the materiel failure that allow for a safe return to flight.”

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