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Now we know why 5 Marines were killed in an Osprey crash

An MV-22B Osprey from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165 flies near San Diego, Calif., Feb. 14, 2013. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Allison J. Herman)
July 24, 2023

An investigation report released Friday by the U.S. Marine Corps outlined the problem that is believed to have caused a fatal V-22 Osprey crash last year that resulted in the death of five U.S. Marines.

On June 8, 2022, five brave Marines left the safety of their base on a routine training flight, unaware it would be their last. The V-22 Osprey aircraft, plagued by an unacknowledged mechanical problem, suffered a catastrophic clutch issue, according to

The tragedy sparked concerns over the safety of these military aircraft and put a spotlight on the need for a firm understanding and resolution to this deadly problem.

The V-22 Osprey’s hard clutch engagement issue, known as HCE, resulted in the aircraft’s crash in southern California, the first fatalities tied to this persisting issue. Despite a history of at least 15 such incidents between March 2010 and August 2022, Maj. Gen. Bradford Gering wrote in a March letter that “the root cause of HCE remains unknown.”

Gering explained that a firm understanding of the cause is needed before improvements can be made to the flight control system software and drivetrain component material strength. “Once the root cause of HCE is understood, then and only then, can improvements to flight control system software, drivetrain component material strength, and robust inspection requirements be developed where applicable,” he said.

Amber Sax, the wife of John Sax, one of the pilots who lost his life, expressed her anguish and desire for safety reform in the aviation community, stating, “This is a difficult day for so many. We just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

The Osprey program office claimed that measures have been taken to reduce the risk of an HCE event by greater than 99%. However, the fact that the underlying cause remains undiscovered raises questions about the reliability of this assurance.

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The ill-fated flight of the five Marines, designated Swift 11, unfolded with minimal warning, according to the recent Marine report. Despite regular reports of overheating gearboxes, there was no expectation of disaster. However, within seconds of beginning its ascent, the Osprey crashed from a height of around 500 feet, taking the lives of Capt. Nicholas Losapio, Capt. John Sax, Cpl. Nathan Carlson, Cpl. Seth Rasmuson, and Lance Cpl. Evan Strickland.

While the Osprey program continues despite concerns and further incidents, the tragic event calls into question the ongoing usage of the V-22 aircraft without a definitive solution to the HCE problem. Meanwhile, the families of the fallen Marines endeavor to honor their memories and push for greater transparency and safety measures in military aviation.

As investigations continue and the military grapples with this persistent issue, the hope remains that the tragic loss of Swift 11’s crew will catalyze change and prevent future tragedies.

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.