KABUL, Afghanistan – A U.S. Air Force Osprey went down in southeastern Afghanistan, killing three service members and one civilian contractor in the first crash of the costly tilt-rotor aircraft in a combat zone, the U.S. military said.
It’s unclear what caused the crash of the U.S. military’s latest generation transport aircraft – beset for years by cost overruns and design flaws.
A NATO statement Friday said “numerous other service members” were injured when the aircraft crashed late Thursday seven miles from Qalat, capital of Zabul province about 200 miles southwest of Kabul.
A Pentagon spokesman, Marine Maj. Shawn Turner, said it was the first time that an Osprey, which take off and land like helicopters and cost nearly $70 million each, has crashed during operations in a war zone.
After years of tests and modification, Ospreys went into service in the Air Force and Marine Corps in 2006.
The Air Force version is believed to be used in Afghanistan primarily for resupply missions and for transporting special operations troops hunting Taliban and al-Qaida figures.