U.S. MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft crash lands in Yemen during Special OPS raid on Al Qaeda

Four MV-22 Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltorotor Squadron 365 filled with Marines and sailors from India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, make their way to Range 210 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. March 3 so India Company can conduct the Clear, Hold, Build Exercise 2H.

A U.S. Marine Corps Osprey that was supporting the first known counterterrorism operation under President Trump crash-landed in Yemen. It was later destroyed by U.S. raid.

Early in the morning on Jan. 29, one American Special Operations commando was killed and three others were injured in a fierce firefight with Al Qaeda fighters targeted by a predawn raid against the AQ headquarters in Yemen.

The surprise attack was carried out by commandos from the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 in Bayda Province who killed 14 Qaeda militants in what is the first confirmed anti-terror operation under Trump presidency.

It’s not clear what aircraft were supporting the raid; what has been confirmed is that a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft called in to evacuate the wounded American soldiers crash landed, injuring 2 service members (1 according to other sources).

The tilt-rotor aircraft was intentionally destroyed in place by a U.S. raid once it was determined that it could not leave the crash landing site.

This was not the first time a U.S. helo supporting a Special Operation crash lands.

On May 2, 2011, one of the helicopters used by the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 in the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden crash landed near OBL’s compound at Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Military on board the helicopter escaped safely on another chopped while the downed one was destroyed leaving only few parts near the Bin Laden’s compound.

Unfortunately for them, those parts didn’t seem to belong to any known type.

In particular, the tail rotor had an unusual cover that could be anything from an armor plate to a noise reduction cover sheltering the motion-control technology used to input low-frequency variations of rotor blade pitch-angle, as tested by NASA; the blades were flatter, and not wing-shaped, whereas the paint job was extremely similar to the kind of anti-radar paint and Radar-Absorbing Material coating used by the most modern stealth fighters: nothing common to either Black Hawks, Chinooks or Apaches helicopters: that crash landed unveiled a Stealth Black Hawk (or MH-X).

Back to the Sunday raid, it’s worth noticing it was the first carried out with commandos, considered that the U.S. has typically relied on drone strikes to target AQ militants in the region (the latest of those were launched each day from Jan. 20 to 22 killing five terrorists). However, it seems this time U.S. troops seized militants laptops, smartphones and other material that was worth the rare ground assault against Al Qaeda.

Top image: file photo of a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22s during an exercise at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California (USMC)


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Would be interesting to know the attrition rate of the MV-22. The USA has lost around 72 helicopters in Afghanistan alone so far.

  2. You mean to tell me that a MV-22 crashed ? It’s a curious armed forces we have…we spend billions on R & D, grinding through years of field testing to refine the aircraft, spend over a million dollars per pilot to train them to fly the aircraft, require hundreds of hours of proficiency training for crews and maintenance personnel, recruit from the finest armed services (Marines) and use only commissioned officers from the finest armed services (Marines) to fly the aircraft. The aircraft wasn’t some beat up P.O.S. hauling trash, it was being used to insert America’s elite special forces into an active combat raid against an armed enemy who has been actively engaged in combat for years…not rookies or wanna be’s…real, hardened, experienced bad guys. So given that this scenario involved America’s best technology, utilized by America’s finest, to insert the world’s finest into a “hot LZ” against an enemy known to be aggressive, active and experienced…this doesn’t say much about our capabilities.

  3. It’s interesting how the US and Saudi Arabia are always killing “terrorists” but Russia and SAA are always killing civilians.

  4. I know the MV-22 range and speed is fantastic but I think there may be reason to question the MV-22 utility and safety at landing in combat. This thing clearly has the worst rotor wash ever seen. It can’t auto rotate and comes in like a brick with a predictable landing path.

    It has no real weapons to defend it self but it so fast it outruns and out ranges its armed escorts
    Its more capable than anything else but perhaps its just not suitable for this type of job.

  5. Great analysis for helos, but not V-22, which has a near ground , sudden roll problem that has caused many of its crashes. The high, long moment (heavy engines stuck way out) resulted in early pilot direction to be, “Do not slow to hover near the ground.” BANGO.

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