US Marines Osprey crashes off Australia’s Queensland coast
A search and rescue operation is being conducted after a US military aircraft was lost off the Australian coast.
The incident involved an MV-22 Osprey belonging to the US Marines based in Okinawa, Japan.
The third Marine Expeditionary Force said the aircraft had launched for “regularly scheduled operations” before it entered the water.
Rescue teams recovered 23 people, but three service members are still missing.
Australian media reported the incident happened during an attempt to land on an aircraft carrier.
The MV-22 Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft, capable of carrying 24 people at a time in addition to four crew members. It is similar to a conventional plane, but has helicopter-like rotor blades which allow it to take off vertically, without a runway.
Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper quoted military sources as saying that the accident happened as the aircraft was trying to land on the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.
Australia’s Defence Minister, Marise Payne, said she had spoken to her US counterpart, James Mattis, and confirmed the incident happened near Shoalwater Bay, off the coast of Queensland.
“I can confirm no Australian Defence Force personnel were on board the aircraft,” she said in a statement.
US military forces have been operating in the area as part of a joint training exercise called Talisman Sabre. It involved some 30,000 personnel from both countries.
An MV-22 Osprey was destroyed earlier this year during a controversial raid by US forces in Yemen, after three crew members were injured in a “hard landing”.
It was so badly damaged that US forces deliberately destroyed the craft in an air strike.
In July, 16 people died after a US Marine Corps plane crashed in Mississippi.