Oversight Committee raises concerns about military crash fatalities

(The Center Square) – House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., sent a letter to U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin calling for more information related to its Osprey use, which has seen more than 50 U.S. service members die in crashes over the past 30 years.

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is a helicopter that has gone through several redesigns. Comer said it is not considered the most dangerous military equipment, but it has an unusually high number of fatalities from training exercises.

“The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is investigating long-term problems regarding the reliability of the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor military aircraft (Osprey),” Comer said in the letter.

Comer pointed to the recent fatal crash off the coast of Yakushima, Japan, and raised concerns “about safety and performance issues surrounding the Osprey program.”

“Further concern is warranted because the Department of Defense (DoD) grounded its entire fleet of Ospreys to mitigate risks,” the letter said. “It is crucial for the safety of our servicemembers to ensure transparency, accountability, and a thorough understanding of the steps DoD is taking to mitigate any further mechanical risks.”

The Committee requested documents, letters, records, communications and other information related to the Osprey by Jan. 4.

“The American taxpayer has invested heavily in the Osprey program. Each unit cost approximately $120 million to procure, and DoD has purchased over 450 Ospreys, spending billions of dollars in sustainment, operations, and maintenance,” the letter said. “The Committee is keen to understand the rationale behind such a significant expenditure and how DoD balances these costs while ensuring military capabilities and readiness.”

Comer lauded the aircraft’s capabilities but still raised concerns about safety.

“The Committee recognizes the significant advantages the Osprey can bring to combat. The Osprey’s turboshafts can rotate ninety degrees, switching from a helicopter-like flight mode to a horizontal airplane-like configuration, and can carry twenty-four combat troops twice as fast and five times farther than previous helicopters,” the letter said. “We also recognize the economic impact of the Osprey program, consisting of more than 500 U.S.-based suppliers, employing over 27,000 people across 44 states.15 However, if the same tiltrotor technology is planned for use in civilian aircraft16 or in future military aircraft, 17 additional oversight is needed to ensure public safety.”

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