US military helicopter crashes near Darwin

A V-22 Osprey helicopter comes in to land.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeremy Graham

A rescue operation is currently underway off the Australian north coast after a United States military helicopter crashed with around 20 marines on board during a combined exercise.

The aircraft, an MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor helicopter, crashed at approximately 09:30AM local time this morning. The Australian broadcaster ABC reported that the helicopter came down near Melville Island, approximately 37 miles (60km) north of Darwin.

One person is in critical condition, two are in stable condition and there are no reports of fatalities, so far, the ABC reported. Some of those on board still remain unaccounted for.

The Osprey was involved in the multilateral Predators Run 2023 exercise, which is conducted jointly by Australia, the United States, Indonesia, the Philippines and Timor-Leste.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has now confirmed that no Australian personnel were aboard the US Osprey helicopter.

“Initial reports suggest the incident involves United States defence personnel and that the Australian Defence Force members were not involved,” the ADF said in a statement this afternoon.

“At this critical early stage, our focus is on the incident response and ensuring the safety of those involved. More information will be provided when appropriate.”

Source: Northern Territory Police incident map.

Exercise Predators Run 2023


Exercise Predators Run 2023 is a multilateral combined arms exercise held in the Australian Northern Territory with capabilities and personnel from the Australian Army, United States Marine Corps (MRF-D), Malaysian Armed Forces, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines at Mount Bundey Training Area.

The exercise this year has involved around 2500 combined personnel and is being carried out in Darwin Harbour and around the Tiwi Islands.

The contingents include approximately 500 US marines, 120 soldiers from the Philippines Armed Forces, 120 from the Indonesian Defence Force and about 50 from the Timor-Leste Defence Force.

Search and rescue continuing


It is understood that the Royal Darwin Hospital is currently on a Code Brown alert – this is the highest level emergency for an Australian hospital.

The Australian Prime Minister Mr Anthony Albanese is expected to make a formal statement later today.

UPDATE 0900 UTC

As search and rescue efforts have continued through the afternoon, three US marines have been confirmed dead and 20 injured, five seriously, in the wake of this mornings US military helicopter crash.

The Darwin-based United States Marine Corps Marine Air-Ground Task Force issued a statement saying: “There were a total of 23 personnel on board. Three have been confirmed deceased while five others were transported to Royal Darwin Hospital in serious condition.”

Reports have confirmed that two V-22 Osprey helicopters took off from the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin this morning, to participate in the ongoing multilateral exercise.

One of the two helicopters then crashed approximately 2 kilometres inland on Melville Island at around 09:30AM local time. The cause of the crash has not yet been disclosed.

UPDATE 1100 UTC

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has released a formal statement on the accident.

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This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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