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Press Release Published: Dec 21, 2023

Comer Investigates Safety of DoD’s Osprey Program

WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) today is calling on U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to provide documents and information about the Osprey program’s safety and performance. Over the last 30 years, there have been over a dozen Osprey crashes that have killed over 50 U.S. servicemembers. Chairman Comer is seeking to bring transparency and accountability to ensure the Department of Defense is taking the steps necessary to protect the lives of U.S. servicemembers.

“The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is investigating long-term problems regarding the reliability of the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor military aircraft (Osprey). Considering the recent Osprey crash off the shore of Yakushima, Japan, in addition to other crashes during the lifetime of this airframe, the Committee remains concerned about safety and performance issues surrounding the Osprey program. Further concern is warranted because the Department of Defense (DoD) grounded its entire fleet of Ospreys to mitigate risks. It is crucial for the safety of our servicemembers to ensure transparency, accountability, and a thorough understanding of the steps DoD is taking to mitigate any further mechanical risks. The Committee is requesting documents and information to better understand the Osprey program’s performance, safety, and oversight,” wrote Chairman Comer.

Since 1992, there have been over a dozen Osprey crashes that have killed over fifty servicemembers. According to the Department of Defense Inspector General, the Osprey has been plagued with reduced visibility and engine failure. There have also been several Osprey crashes due to faulty gearboxes. Over nine years of attempts to redesign the U.S. Navy’s version of the aircraft to prevent engine failure, crash casualties continue. The Oversight Committee has done extensive examination of the Osprey program in the past and additional reports from government watchdogs revealed problems in the Osprey program, yet our servicemembers remain in harm’s way without resolution of known mechanical issues.

“The Committee recognizes the significant advantages the Osprey can bring to combat. The Osprey’s turboshafts can rotate ninety degrees, switching from a helicopter-like flight mode to a horizontal airplane-like configuration, and can carry twenty-four combat troops twice as fast and five times farther than previous helicopters. We also recognize the economic impact of the Osprey program, consisting of more than 500 U.S.-based suppliers, employing over 27,000 people across 44 states. However, if the same tiltrotor technology is planned for use in civilian aircraft or in future military aircraft, additional oversight is needed to ensure public safety. Given the gravity of the loss of servicemembers’ lives, increasing costs, and the future economic impact and innovative applications of Osprey program technology, the Committee requests documents and information to shed light on aspects of the program’s safety and performance,” continued Chairman Comer. 

Read the letter to Secretary Austin here.