LOS ANGELES – All five U.S. Marines aboard a military aircraft that crashed Wednesday afternoon in Imperial County were killed, officials said.
The U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey crashed during a training mission near Glamis, officials with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing said Thursday. Glamis is approximately 150 miles east of San Diego and sits near the borders with Arizona and Mexico.
The names of the deceased Marines will not be released until 24 hours after relatives are notified, according to military officials.
“We mourn the loss of our Marines in this tragic mishap,” Maj. Gen. Bradford J. Gering said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to their families and friends as they cope with this tragedy.”
The aircraft was based at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton with Marine Aircraft Group 39 and crashed around 12:25 p.m. near Coachella Canal Road and Highway 78. Contrary to reports on social media and early radio calls from the scene by emergency responders, there were no nuclear materials onboard, Cpl. Sarah Marshall, a spokesperson for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, said Wednesday.
Military personnel are recovering debris from the aircraft and an investigation into the cause of the crash is underway.
The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that can take off and land like a helicopter and fly like an airplane by pivoting its rotors. Versions of the aircraft are flown by the Marines, Navy and Air Force to transport troops and equipment. It has a higher top speed and longer range than a helicopter but is able to hover and land in a similar manner.
The aircraft, however, has a troubled and controversial history.
In March, four North Carolina-based Marines were killed in another Osprey crash during a North Atlantic Treaty Organization exercise in Norway.
Wednesday’s fatalities added to the at least 46 deaths since the military began testing the unique aircraft, available crash records show. Since the Pentagon made it operational in 2007, there have been eight Osprey crashes.
After an Osprey crashed in the Arabian Sea in 2014, killing its crew chief, Marine Corps investigators concluded in a 183-page report that the aircraft was doomed on takeoff because it was accidentally started in maintenance mode.
During development and testing, the aircraft’s advocates argued that the Osprey would revolutionize warfare because of its tilt-rotor capabilities, but it became embroiled in scandal during testing after a series of fatal crashes.