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Australia Finds Missing US Aircraft

By VOA News August 07, 2017

The Australian navy says it has found the missing U.S. aircraft that crashed into the sea Saturday off Australia's east coast.

Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said in a statement the submerged aircraft was located "shortly after" Royal Australian Navy survey ship HMAS Melville arrived in Shoalwater Bay.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Navy divers are working with the crew of the Melville at the crash site and are using remotely operated underwater vehicles.

The aircraft had been launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard assault ship and was involved in routine operations when it crashed.

Twenty-three people aboard the MV-22 Osprey were rescued, but three Marines remained missing.

The U.S. military launched a search and rescue effort for the missing Marines, but eventually changed that operation to a recovery effort in coordination with Australian defense forces. The families of the missing Marines were notified.

The aircraft was in Australia after completing a joint U.S.-Australian military training exercise at least two weeks ago in Shoalwater Bay. The biennial exercise involved some 30,000 troops and 200 aircraft. Australian troops are among U.S.-led coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Marine Corps did not say what caused the crash, but indicated it is under investigation.

The Osprey is designed to take off like a helicopter and rotate its propellers to fly like a plane. Its development was almost cancelled after 23 marines were killed during a flight test in 2000. The U.S. military grounded its Osprey fleet in Japan last December after one of them crash-landed into the sea, injuring all five crew members on board.

The Osprey is built by Boeing Company and Textron Inc.'s Bell Helicopter division.

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