Letter Text (PDF) 

Washington (December 22, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) - a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services - and Chairman Richard E. Neal (MA-01), sent a letter to Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III requesting the Department of Defense examine the safety of the V-22 Osprey aircraft and its operation in the Air Force, Marine, Corps, and Navy. In their letter, the lawmakers highlight the alarming trend of three decades of numerous accidents and mishaps involving the V-22 Osprey’s operation, resulting in the death or injury of U.S. servicemembers, including the recent crash that killed Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob Galliher of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Since the V-22 Osprey’s initial development and entry into service in 2007, it has been involved in 14 crashes that caused 54 deaths. In just the last two years, in several V-22 Osprey accidents, 13 servicemembers have died, including another Massachusetts constituent, Marine Corps Capt. Ross A. Reynolds, a MV-22B Osprey pilot and native of Leominster, who died in a crash near Bodø, Norway. Since the accident involving Staff Sergeant Galliher, the Department of Defense has grounded all V-22 Osprey aircraft.

“We welcome the Department of Defense’s decision to ground all V-22 Osprey flight operations and urge you to continue to do so until it conclusively deems the aircraft safe and to answer questions about the aircraft’s continued use despite these many tragic incidents,” write the lawmakers in their letter.

The lawmakers continued, “No other U.S. service member should be injured or perish in a V-22 Osprey accident or mishap. We urge the Defense Department, and the Departments of the Air Force and the Navy to ensure that the V-22 Osprey is safe to fly before allowing service members from across the Commonwealth and the United States back on board.”

Senators Markey and Warren, and Rep. Neal request that the Secretary of Defense respond to questions by January 31, 2024:

  • What is the status of Defense Department investigations into recent V-22 Osprey crashes? When will those investigations be complete and their findings made public?
  • Were there any warnings that the flight that killed Staff Sgt. Galliher should not have happened?
  • What are the safety differences between the Osprey’s MV-22B (Marine Corps), CMV-22B (Navy), and CV-22B (Air Force) variants? Are the Air Force, Marine Corps, and the Navy sharing safety best practices for the aircraft?
  • Our Japanese Self-Defense Force allies also operate the V-22 Osprey; have they had similar safety issues with the aircraft?
  • The CV-22B Osprey is a key platform in the implementation of the Pacific Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment concept across the Indo-Pacific’s vast distances. What other aircraft platforms can be used in lieu of the V-22 Osprey?
  • Have the manufacturers of the V-22 Osprey — Bell Helicopter and Boeing Defense, Space & Security — informed the Department of Defense about specific safety concerns of the aircraft? If so, please provide a list of all such concerns relayed by these companies, and the dates on which they were provided.
  • The V-22 Osprey is known for its “hard clutch engagement” (HCE) problems. Has the Defense Department determined how to solve the aircraft’s HCE problems?
  • Will the Defense Department keep the fleet of the V-22 Osprey (and all its variations) grounded until flights can be deemed safe? If not, why not?