Wire services quoting U.S. embassy spokesman Rodney D. Ford called the dead “soldiers” but military sources told Breaking Defense the only personnel aboard the aircraft were its Marine Corps crew, consisting of two pilots and two enlisted crew chiefs. Next-of-kin had yet to be notified as of 5:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday, so the names of those killed had yet to be released.
The MV-22 was from VMM-261, one of several Osprey squadrons based at Marine Corps Air Station New River near Jacksonville, N.C., and was attached to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Breaking Defense’s sources confirmed, speaking on condition of anonymity because U.S. Africa Command was responsible for publicly releasing information on the crash.
The accident occurred during a bilateral exercise with the Moroccan military called African Lion in which about 1,000 Marines and 200 other U.S. military personnel were participating.
Wednesday’s accident marked the first fatal crash of a Marine Corps Osprey in more than a decade, a period in which the helicopter-airplane hybrid “tiltrotor” enjoyed the best safety record of any Marine combat rotorcraft. An Air Force CV-22 Osprey carrying Army Rangers on a night raid hit a ditch and flipped onto its back after a hard landing in Afghanistan on April 8, 2010, killing four of 18 on board.