A U.S. Marine aircraft crashed off the coast of Australia. Twenty-three of the 26 on board have been found alive but the search for three more continues.
The crash occurred while Marines were flying an MV-22 Osprey. The incident occurred off Shoalwater Bay in Queensland, according to Fox News.
After confirming that no Australian Defense Force members were on board the aircraft, Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said she had spoken with U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis “to offer Australia’s support in any way that can be of assistance.”
The aircraft crashed into the water after taking off from the USS Bonhomme Richard amphibious assault ship. The aircraft was conducting scheduled operations. Boats and aircraft on the ship sprang into action. The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group are actively looking for the missing service members, according to a statement by the Marines. Ships, small boats, and aircraft are all involved in the rescue operation.
The aircraft that crashed is a unique one. The MV-22 Osprey has two propellers that face upward like a helicopter, but then can turn forward like an airplane, making it a versatile aircraft. Even though Marines died during testing of the MV-22 Osprey years ago, it is still popular due to its speed and maneuverability advantages over traditional helicopters, according to Reuters.
The USS Bonhomme Richard was still in the area after joint training exercises involving 33,000 U.S. and Australian military personnel and 200 aircraft ended two weeks ago. The two countries’ militaries conduct the Talisman Sabre exercise every other year.
Another, more deadly crash involving a U.S. Marine aircraft occurred in Mississippi just last month. Fifteen Marines and one Navy sailor died when a KC-130 crashed into a field, as an earlier Epoch Times article reports. The Marines have chosen to ground all similar aircraft until further notice, as CNN reported.
As Fox News reports, total U.S. military aircraft crashes so far this year, not occurring in combat, is 12. About 70 percent of Marine Corps fighter jets can’t fly because of repair issues and reduced flight hours due to years of budget cuts.