A rescue operation is currently underway following the crash of a US military aircraft over the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory. The aircraft in question is a V-22 Osprey, which was carrying approximately 20 US marines. The crash occurred on the remote Melville Island, situated about 80 kilometers off the coast from Darwin, at 9:43 am on Sunday.
There are several individuals unaccounted for, and some have sustained injuries. Fortunately, there have been no reports of fatalities thus far. A Department of Defence spokesperson stated that early reports indicate the involvement of United States defence personnel and confirm that Australian Defence Force members were not part of the incident. The primary focus at this critical stage is on the incident response and ensuring the safety of those affected. More details will be shared as deemed appropriate.
It’s worth noting that this incident has taken place during the Territory’s largest Australian-led military exercise, known as Predators Run, which involves 2,500 soldiers, including approximately 500 US marines. The exercise also includes soldiers from the Philippines, Indonesia, East Timor, and Australian personnel. Predators Run has reportedly been temporarily paused in response to the crash.
Additionally, an aviation tracker on Twitter reported the presence of an RAAF C-130 circling the area for an extended period, along with the deployment of a Careflight helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft to the scene.
This incident is reminiscent of a previous tragedy, where four Australian Defence Force personnel lost their lives when an MRH-90 Taipan aircraft crashed into the ocean near Lindeman Island, Queensland, during Exercise Talisman Sabre. The crash victims were identified as Captain Daniel Lyon, Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, Corporal Alexander Naggs, and Warrant Officer Class Two Joseph Phillip Laycock. In a separate incident in 2017, three US marines lost their lives when an MV-22 Osprey crashed into the water off the Queensland coast at Shoalwater Bay during a military training exercise. Fortunately, the remaining 23 crew members were rescued in that case.