Defense

Air Force Special Operations Command grounds fleet of Ospreys

The Pentagon is seen on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 in Arlington, Va.
Greg Nash
The Pentagon is seen on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 in Arlington, Va.

The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has grounded its entire fleet of CV-22 Ospreys due to two recent safety incidents involving the aircraft’s clutch. 

The standdown of the 52 tiltrotor aircraft, first reported by Breaking Defense, was ordered by AFSOC Commander Lt. Gen. Jim Slife on Tuesday. 

The decision stems from an “increased number of safety incidents” involving the Ospreys, including two in the past six weeks and a total of four since 2017, an AFSOC official told the outlet.  

“The safety of our Airmen is of the utmost importance, therefore no AFSOC CV-22s will fly until we will determine the cause of the hard clutch engagements and risk control measures are put in place,” command spokeswoman Lt. Col. Becky Heyse said in a statement to Breaking Defense.  

AFSOC has discovered there is an issue with “hard clutch engagement.” Heyse said the clutch that connects one of an Osprey’s two engines to the propeller rotor is slipping for reasons unknown, forcing the aircrew to immediately land the aircraft.  

No injuries or deaths have been caused by the issue “due in large part to the skill and professionalism of our Air Commandos who operate the CV-22,” Heyse added. 

It is unknown how long the aircraft will be grounded. 

AFSOC said it will work with the V-22 Joint Program Office and industry partners to further understand and fix the issue. The CV-22 is made by Bell-Boeing, while its engines are made by Rolls-Royce. 

The decision to ground the Ospreys follows two accidents that killed nine Marines earlier this year involving the Marine Corps’ MV-22B version of the aircraft.  

A June 8 Osprey crash in in California killed five Marines, while a crash in Norway in March killed four Marines. 

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