A US military aircraft that crashed off the Australian coast has been found, authorities said today, with divers preparing to try and locate three missing marines. The MV-22 Osprey - a hybrid helicopter-turboprop with a chequered safety record - went down today off Shoalwater Bay in Queensland state. Twenty-three personnel were quickly saved, but three marines remained missing despite an air and sea search. The Royal Australian Navy survey ship HMAS Melville joined the search overnight and soon found the wreckage. "Shortly after commencing survey operations in the area, the submerged aircraft was located," Defence Minister Marise Payne said in a statement. A navy diving team has since headed to the Melville via landing craft and was to conduct "remotely operated underwater vehicle operations" today evening. Yesterday the US Marine Corps said recovery and salvage operations could take months to complete, while the cause of the crash was being investigated. The MV-22, which is half-helicopter half-turboprop, has two engines positioned on fixed wingtips that allow it to land and take off vertically.
It can travel much faster than a helicopter. The Japan-based aircraft was in the region as part of the Australian-US joint military exercise Talisman Sabre. Following the incident, Japan's defence minister asked Washington to temporarily stop flying them in his country. A squadron of Ospreys is based at the Marines' Futenma base on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa. There have been a series of deadly incidents, mostly in the United States, involving the aircraft. In April 2000 19 Marines were killed in an MV-22 crash in the US.
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