Four Marines Killed In MV-22 Osprey Crash In Norway

A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor has gone missing in northern Norway today, leaving four crew members unaccounted for. The aircraft was in Norway for the large-scale Cold Response exercise, during which NATO forces practice their combat skills in demanding cold Norwegian weather conditions.

Sadly, it has now been confirmed that the four Marine crew members on this MV-22B perished in the crash, as you can read more about in the update at the bottom of this story.

Hovedredningssentralen (HRS) Northern Norway, the local branch of the main Norwegian rescue agency, confirmed in a statement that the Osprey had failed to land at Bodø Air Base in the Nordland region as it had been scheduled to do around 6:00 PM local time, after a training mission. The MV-22 was reported missing at 6:26 PM. Its last known position was on Saltfjellet, one of the largest mountain ranges in Norway, located south of Bodø and through which the Arctic Circle passes.

U.S. Marines assigned to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force, prepare to fly MV-22 Ospreys at Harstad, Norway, Feb. 19, 2022, ahead of Exercise Cold Response., U.S. Marine Corps/Capt. Katrina Herrera

At 9:17 PM local time, a possible crash site was located from the air in the valley of Gråtådalen in Beiarn municipality, also in Nordland. However, due to the weather conditions, it was not immediately possible for rescuers to go down to the site.

The immediate vicinity of the incident including the location of the possible crash site, at Gråtådalen., GOOGLE EARTH

“The weather conditions in the area have been challenging and are expected to get worse,” the HRS stated.

Local assets involved in the search for the Osprey include a rescue helicopter launched from Bodø, together with a Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, which are home-based at Andøya and can deliver air-droppable rescue gear. According to the HRS, another rescue helicopter was also sent from Ørland. The RNoAF bases at Bodø and Ørland have detachments of veteran Sea King Mk 43B and more modern AW101 Mk 612 rescue helicopters.

The main Norwegian airbases involved in the incident and their locations within the wider region., GOOGLE EARTH

With a possible crash site now identified, a search mission is also underway on the ground, as part of an operation coordinated by the local police.

According to images released by the Pentagon, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (VMM-261), “The Raging Bulls,” is currently taking part in Exercise Cold Response 2022, suggesting that it could have been an Osprey from this unit that was involved.

The exercise involves around 30,000 troops, 220 aircraft, and 50 vessels from 27 countries, mostly from NATO but also regional partners Finland and Sweden. The drill runs from March 14 to April 1.

This year, Cold Response has additional resonance, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and heightened tensions between NATO and the Kremlin, although the growing military threat posed by Russia, in general, has seen the strategic focus shift increasingly toward Norway in recent years.

“The Arctic is among the most strategically significant regions of the world today — the keystone from which the U.S. Air and Space Forces exercise vigilance,” said Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett when she announced the Air Force’s announced a new Arctic Strategy in 2020. This calls for an increased presence in the region to counter the threat posed by Russia.

As well as providing participating forces with experience of operations in cold weather, including within the Arctic Circle, Cold Response also tests the ability to deploy military reinforcements to Norway, which would likely be a key theater of operations in any wider confrontation between NATO and Russia in northern Europe.

With this in mind, Cold Response is run as a multi-domain exercise, with components on land, at sea, and in the air. This year, the exercise opens with a maritime phase in the Atlantic, followed by a second phase focused upon air operations, and finally amphibious landing and land battle training. 

We will update this story as more information becomes available. 

Update 3/19/2022:

In the face of poor weather, Norwegian authorities were finally able to reach the crash site, in Graetaedalen in Beiarn, south of Bodø, early this morning. After arriving there, they confirmed that all four individuals on board the aircraft had died. The accident remains under investigation. There is no word yet on any recovery efforts.

“It is with great sadness we have recived [sic] the message that four American soldiers died in a plane crash last night,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre wrote in a Tweet. “Our deepest sympathies go to the soldiers’ families, relatives and fellow soldiers in their unit.”  

Update 3/21/2022:

The Pentagon has named the four Marines that were killed in the MV-22B crash on March 18 as Capt. Matthew J. Tomkiewicz of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Capt. Ross A. Reynolds of Leominster, Mass.; Gunnery Sgt. James W. Speedy of Cambridge, Ohio; and Cpl. Jacob M. Moore of Catlettsburg, Kentucky. All four were assigned to VMM-261.

“The Marine Corps assisted the Norwegian-led recovery effort,” the Department of Defense said in a media release. “The deceased Marines were successfully removed from the crash site and are in the process of being returned to the U.S. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.”

U.S. Marine Corps

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