I checked in with a source who is very familiar with the Osprey program to see if he had any insight into last week’s crash of the 1st Special Operations Wing CV-22 Osprey in southeastern Afghanistan. Lots of speculation, he said, and the Osprey community is, understandably, tight lipped on this one because it was a spec ops bird.
He thinks it was malfunction or pilot error, or both. Since there were survivors that were subsequently rescued, he believes it was most likely a severe mechanical malfunction that precipitated an emergency landing in which the pilot most likely was unable to land safely in the dark. The CV-22 is heavier than the MV-22 and has less power available to maintain a "wave off" capability, he said.
He doubted Taliban claims that they shot it down. His reasoning:
“Since it went down approx 1 a.m.; it is highly unlikely that it was shot down. The only weapons available to the Taliban are ballistic (RPGs) and IR MANPADS. The visual acquisition requirements coupled with the 30 second seeker head cool down time makes it damn near impossible to acquire the aircraft audibly and then visually acquire the aircraft while inserting the BCU into the shoulder fired MANPAD system, and then waiting the 30" for seeker head cool down and then conduct an engagement in the dark. Additionally, it is likely that the crash would have been more catastrophic given an impact of the SAM and the subsequent conflagration following an impact (fire, hydraulic, confusion, panic).”