Loss of 4 Marines in Norway Osprey Crash Brings Attention to Aircraft with Spotty History

Marines work together to ensure the safe takeoff of a MV-22B Osprey at Peterson AFB
Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 Marines work together to ensure the safe takeoff of a MV-22B Osprey at Peterson AFB, Jan. 29, 2021. (Jared Bunn/U.S. Space Force)

A Friday crash of an MV-22B Osprey near Bodo, Norway, that claimed the lives of four Marines is once again putting an aircraft that had a notoriously troubled development into the spotlight.

Late Sunday, the Marine Corps released the names of the four service members: Capt. Matthew Tomkiewicz of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Capt. Ross Reynolds of Leominster, Massachusetts; Gunnery Sgt. James Speedy of Cambridge, Ohio; and Cpl. Jacob Moore of Catlettsburg, Kentucky.

All four were assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261, according to a statement released by the II Marine Expeditionary Force late Sunday.

Read Next: They Spent Years Caring for Their Veterans. Now They Are Losing a Lifeline

The Marine Corps said the cause of the crash is under investigation, but Norwegian police reported bad weather in the area, according to The Associated Press.

The Osprey has had a controversial development and operational history, with some arguing that it is unsafe. Between 1991 and 2006, while the aircraft was undergoing testing, there were four crashes resulting in 30 deaths.

Since becoming operational in 2007, there have been other crashes, though the number of fatalities has decreased significantly. The defense contractor-supported Lexington Institute described the aircraft as "the safest, most survivable rotorcraft the U.S. Marine Corps operates" in 2011, shortly after the Osprey had its first fatal accident in a decade.

The last major crash involving a V-22 Osprey was in 2017 when Pentagon officials said "two service members were injured after a coalition aircraft executed a hard landing" at an undisclosed location in Syria. The last fatal crash involving the aircraft was also in 2017 off the coast of Australia, in which three Marines were lost.

    In a press release, Maj. Gen. Michael Cederholm, the commander of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, praised the service of the four Marines who perished March 18.

    "The pilots and crew were committed to accomplishing their mission and serving a cause greater than themselves," he said. "We will never allow these Marines' sacrifice to go unnoticed or unappreciated."

    The statement notes that the bodies of the Marines had been removed from the site and "are in the process of being returned." The service said a dignified transfer will happen "in the coming days."

    News of the crash was first announced by Norwegian authorities on Saturday, though the Corps says the crash occurred Friday. Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said in a tweet that the country's "deepest sympathies go to the soldiers' families, relatives and fellow soldiers in their unit."

    The Marines were participating in the NATO exercise Cold Response 2022.

    -- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at konstantin.toropin@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

    Related: Navy Recovers Sunken F-35 Jet That Crashed Off the Deck of a Carrier into the South China Sea

    Story Continues