A military helicopter carrying about 20 United States Marines (US) crashed off the coast of Darwin in northern Australia on Sunday (27/8).
The V-22 Osprey helicopter crashed near Melville Island about 60 km (37 miles) from Darwin while conducting exercises involving military personnel from the US, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Timor-Leste.
Several people were rescued, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). “One person is in critical condition, two people are in stable condition and there are no reports of casualties,” it was reported.
Australia’s Ministry of Defense said the crash occurred during the annual Predator Run exercise involving the militaries of Australia, the United States, Timor Leste, Indonesia and the Philippines. The Australian Defense Force (ADF) said no Australian personnel were on board the Osprey.
“At this critical early stage, our focus is on incident response and ensuring the safety of those involved. Further information will be provided as needed,” the ADF said in a statement.
The US and Australia, major allies in the Pacific, have stepped up military cooperation in recent years in the face of an increasingly assertive China. Four Australian soldiers died last month when their helicopter crashed into the sea off the Queensland coast.
The aircraft had taken part in Talisman Saber, a joint military exercise involving a total of 13 countries, including the US, Australia, Japan, France and Germany, and more than 30,000 personnel.
“The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that combines the features of a helicopter and a turboprop aircraft,” according to the US Air Force. The helicopter has two rotary engines positioned on fixed wingtips which allow it to land and take off vertically, but also move at a faster speed than conventional helicopters.
The Osprey’s safety record has been repeatedly questioned after a series of fatal incidents. In June last year, all five Marines aboard the Osprey died when it crashed in the California desert near the Arizona border.
In March of that year, four Marines were killed when an Osprey crashed near a Norwegian town in the Arctic Circle during a NATO exercise. In 2017, three Marines died when the Osprey crashed after hitting the rear of a transport ship while trying to land in the sea off Australia’s northern coast.