Air Force Osprey fleet remains on duty despite recent crash

The Air Force Osprey went down during a training mission near the command's headquarters in Hurlburt Field, Fla., late Wednesday, 1st Special Operations Wing Commander Col. Jim Slife told The Associated Press on Thursday. 

The V-22 that went down was one of two Ospreys that were flying the training mission, Slife told reporters during the briefing at Hurlburt. 

“When the lead aircraft turned around in the gun pattern, they did not see their wingman behind them so they started a brief search and found the aircraft had crashed right there on the range," he said. 

The Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey is an aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter and flies like a fixed-wing plane.

The five Air Force crew members were rescued and transported to local hospitals, where four of the five members are in stable condition, according to Slife. 

Two separate investigations are under way to determine the cause of the crash. That said, Air Force leaders are not planning on grounding the 24 V-22s in the command's fleet, Slife said. 

Marine Corps officials took a similar tact in April when two Marines were killed in an Osprey crash during a joint training exercise in Morocco known as “African Lion.”

The service did not suspend Osprey operations after the accident and continued its plans to pursue a new multiyear purchase of the aircraft in its fiscal 2013 budget proposal, Marine Corps Col. Greg Masiello, V-22 joint program manager, said in April. 

Aside from military duty, the Osprey has also been selected to conduct VIP transport for Secret Service personnel, White House staff and press accompanying the president when on travel. 

The early days of the Osprey's development were plagued by mechanical failures and a slew of accidents. An Osprey crash in April 2000 killed 19 Marines when the aircraft rolled over sideways while landing during a training exercise.