Comer demands Pentagon info on Ospreys after deadly crashes

 December 22, 2023

House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. James Comer (R-KY) has formally requested the Pentagon to provide documents and information related to the Osprey aircraft as part of an inquiry into potential safety concerns following a fatal crash near Japan last month, which claimed the lives of eight U.S. troops.

In a statement, Comer expressed concerns about the history of Osprey crashes causing fatalities over the past three decades and emphasized the need for transparency and accountability from the Defense Department.

The statement

He stated, “The Committee remains concerned about safety and performance issues surrounding the Osprey program."

He added, "It is crucial for the safety of our service members to ensure transparency, accountability, and a thorough understanding of the steps [the Pentagon] is taking to mitigate any further mechanical risks.”

The investigation focuses on the CV-22 Osprey, the aircraft involved in the recent crash. Two prominent defense and military lawmakers have also urged the Government Accountability Office to examine potential safety issues that may impact the entire Osprey fleet.

The safety concerns

Following the incident, the Air Force grounded all CV-22 Ospreys while investigators probed the cause of the crash. A preliminary finding suggested a "potential material failure" as the cause.

The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has recovered seven of the eight service members who lost their lives, with ongoing efforts to retrieve the remaining individual.

Comer highlighted that since 1992, more than a dozen Osprey crashes have resulted in the deaths of over 50 American troops. He raised concerns about existing issues such as reduced visibility, faulty gearboxes, and engine failures.

While acknowledging the Osprey's advantages, including its ability to transport combat troops at higher speeds, Comer emphasized the need to address persistent failures in the Osprey program due to the significant impact on servicemembers' lives, rising costs, and the program's future implications.

The needed changes

Comer's call for transparency and accountability underscores the gravity of the safety concerns surrounding the Osprey program.

The CV-22 Osprey, known for its unique tilt-rotor design, has faced scrutiny for its safety record, with Comer pointing to a history of crashes and fatalities dating back to 1992. The recent crash near Japan has reignited fears and prompted a comprehensive review of the aircraft's safety protocols.

The decision to ground the entire fleet of CV-22 Ospreys reflects the severity of the incident and the urgency to investigate potential mechanical risks. The preliminary indication of a "potential material failure" in the crashed aircraft has raised questions about the reliability and structural integrity of the Osprey.

Comer's investigation aligns with broader calls for a thorough examination of the Osprey program's safety features. The Government Accountability Office's potential involvement signals a comprehensive, independent assessment that could shed light on systemic issues affecting the entire Osprey fleet.

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