US Marine aircraft reportedly crashes off Australian coast, search and rescue underway

US Marine Corps- MV22 Osprey aircraft

The MV-22 Osprey was conducting operations from an amphibious assault ship - a large aircraft carrier-type vessel designed for launching helicopters - when the Osprey went into the water, the Marine Corps said in a statement.

The aircraft, an MV-22 Osprey, crashed at Shoalwater Bay near Rockhampton on Saturday afternoon. "The 31st MEU is now operating with the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group as part of a regularly-scheduled deployment in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region", he said.

The MV-22 was deployed to Queensland as part of "Talisman Sabre", a military exercise involving 33,000 personnel, 33 ships and 200 aircraft from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Canada.

She had also briefed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and spoken with US Defense Secretary James Mattis to offer Australia's support.

A search and rescue effort was under way last night, with boats and warships searching for the missing Marines.

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The mishap is under investigation, Flanagan said, and search operations are ongoing.

The Australian Department of Defence confirmed there were no Australian personnel on board.

The aircraft, resembling a cross between a helicopter and airplane, has capabilities including taking off vertically and travelling much faster than a helicopter.

Twenty three of the 26 missing service members have been rescued, according to officials.

"It had a very hard development period", said Richard L. Aboulafia, an aircraft consultant and analyst with Teal Group, an aerospace and defense consultancy.

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'The United States are leading the search and recovery effort'.

"Our thoughts are with the crew and families affected", she said.

Saturday's crash comes weeks after a Marine Corps cargo plane broke apart in mid flight and crashed into the Mississippi Delta region, killing 15 Marines and a Navy Corpsman.

The U.S. military grounded its Osprey fleet in Japan last December after one of them crash-landed into the sea, injuring five crew members.

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