Five US Marines killed in aircraft crash in California desert

The MV-22 Osprey aircraft went down on Wednesday during training in a remote area about 185km east of San Diego.

A MV-22B Osprey aircraft
An MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft flies at the Marine Corps Air Facility in Quantico, Virginia in August 2012 [File: Haraz N Ghanbari/AP Photo]

All five United States Marines on board an Osprey aircraft were killed when it crashed in the California desert near the Arizona border, the US Marine Corps said on Thursday.

No additional details regarding the cause of Wednesday’s crash were provided in the Marine Corps statement.

The MV-22 Osprey went down at 12:25pm (19:25 GMT) on Wednesday during training in a remote area in Imperial County near the community of Glamis, about 185km (115 miles) east of San Diego.

The aircraft was based at Camp Pendleton with Marine Aircraft Group 39 and was part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

“We mourn the loss of our Marines in this tragic mishap,” Major General Bradford J Gering, commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to their families and friends as they cope with this tragedy.”

The statement said that as a matter of policy, the Marine Corps would be contacting family members before identifying those who were killed. Efforts to recover equipment were under way and an investigation has started.

The Osprey, a hybrid aeroplane and helicopter, has been criticised as unsafe. It is designed to take off like a helicopter, rotate its propellers to a horizontal position and cruise like a plane.

Versions of the aircraft are flown by the US Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.

Prior to Wednesday’s crash, Osprey crashes had caused 46 deaths, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Most recently, four Marines were killed when a Marine Corps Osprey crashed on March 18 near a Norwegian town in the Arctic Circle while participating in a NATO exercise.

In 2017, three Marines were killed when their MV-22 Osprey crashed off Queensland, Australia. In 2015, one Marine was killed and 21 were injured when their MV-22 Osprey caught fire during a “hard landing” in Hawaii.

The Osprey is a joint project of Bell Helicopter Textron and Boeing.

Its development was marked by deadly crashes, including an April 2000 accident in Arizona that killed 19 Marines.

Source: AP