- About 20 people were on board, including “defence personnel.”
- Three injured passengers taken to Darwin Hospital.
- US using northern Australia as part of its strategy against China.
During a military exercise on Sunday, a United States Osprey military aircraft crashed on a remote island to the north of Australia’s mainland, as reported by Australia’s Defence Department. The aircraft was involved in war games when the incident occurred. It was confirmed that the crashed Osprey, which is a vertical takeoff aircraft, had US “defence personnel” on board, with local media estimating around 20 individuals were present during the mishap. According to media, the Care Flight rescue service informed that three passengers were urgently transported to Darwin Hospital, with one in critical condition and the other two in stable conditions.
Australia’s Defence Department stated that their primary concern at this initial stage is managing the incident response and ensuring the safety of those affected. They emphasized that Australian soldiers were not part of the incident. The crash transpired on Melville Island, situated approximately 60 kilometres north of the Australian mainland in the eastern Timor Sea, according to an emergency services incident map for the Northern Territory.
The incident occurred during the Predators Run exercises, a collaborative series of warfighting drills involving thousands of soldiers from nations including the US, Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. As part of their strategy to counter China in the Asia-Pacific region, the US military has been increasingly utilizing Northern Australia as a strategic base in recent years.
Ospreys, recognized as tilt-rotor aircraft, amalgamate the functionalities of helicopters and turboprop planes, designed to take off vertically and travel faster than traditional helicopters due to their two swivelling engines on fixed wingtips.
However, the Osprey’s safety track record has raised concerns due to several fatal incidents. For instance, in 2000, 19 Marines perished during an Osprey crash in Arizona during a training exercise. Additionally, in 2017, three marines were killed when an Osprey collided with the back of a transport ship during an attempted sea landing off Australia’s north coast. Another tragic event took place in July, when four Australians lost their lives in the crash of their Taipan helicopter during multinational war games near Queensland’s Whitsunday Islands. The mishap occurred during a nighttime operation as part of the Talisman Sabre exercise, which involved 30,000 military personnel from various nations, including Australia and the United States.
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