40 Commando, Royal Marines, arrive in Darwin ahead of Exercise Predator’s Run

The United Kingdom has sent an elite Special Forces Unit to the Top End ahead of a massive multinational military exercise this month.

Last weekend, troops from 40 Commando, Royal Marines, touched down at Darwin Airport to take part in the Australian Army-led Exercise Predator’s Run.

Having travelled more than 14,000 kilometres, it is understood 40 Commando’s touchdown was preceded by an advanced party which arrived early to plan alongside local Australian Defence Force (ADF) units.

The Defence spokesman also confirmed personnel from the Philippine Army would participate in the exercise.

members allowed to board V-22 Osprey, Department of Defence confirms

Darwin’s Diggers will be allowed to climb aboard the US V-22 Osprey aircraft, despite the controversial tiltrotor being placed on a worldwide flight restriction.

The news comes as Darwin’s 1st Brigade ramp up training activities alongside their US Marine counterparts across the Top End.

The Department of Defence told the NT News there were no restrictions on the carriage of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel in US aircraft.

Marine Rotation Force – Darwin (MRF-D) also confirmed there were no restrictions stopping their Australian counterparts from boarding their airframes.

“They clearly don’t have answers still on the cause of the mishaps and why the hard clutch engagement is happening, and they don’t have a fix for it”

Marine Corps Osprey lands on Australian warship 3 months after flight ban was lifted

An MV-22 Osprey touched down on an Australian warship last week, another indicator the tiltrotor is returning to routine service with the Marine Corps after a series of deadly crashes.

The U.S. military grounded its fleet of about 400 Ospreys between Dec. 6 and March 8 as it investigated the Nov. 29 crash of an Air Force CV-22 Osprey that killed eight airmen off Japan’s southern coast. An Osprey assigned to last year’s Marine rotational force crashed in August north of Darwin, in Australia’s Northern Territory, killing three Marines and injuring 20 others, three seriously. The Osprey has been plagued by a problem called hard clutch engagement that caused loss of control in some instances and was blamed for the deaths of five Marines in a June 2022 Osprey crash in California.

After the November crash, the Marines put their Ospreys in the air again less than a week after Naval Air Systems Command cleared them for flight on March 8.

Navy Ospreys are not yet flying passengers to aircraft flight decks

V-22 Osprey to be examined in subcommittee hearing, manufacturers sued

US officials are accusing the Pentagon of “recalcitrance” following attempts to obtain documents concerning the controversial aircraft. Meanwhile in the Top End, the tilt-rotors continue to fly.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) have remained cagey on the issue and have failed to confirm whether ADF troops would be permitted to board the aircraft.

The accusation comes after the subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs announced it would explore the controversial aircraft’s extensive history of deadly crashes in a hearing this week.

Subcommittee Chairman Glenn Grothman blasted the “unacceptable” number of US service members killed on board the tilt-rotor and accused the Pentagon of not complying with the requests of elected officials.

It is expected the most recent Osprey crashes will be examined in detail, including the deadly crash at the Tiwi Islands in August 2023, in which three Marines were killed. On August 27, 2023, Captain Eleanor LeBeau, Major Tobin Lewis and Corporal Spencer Collart were killed after their MV-22 Osprey went down on the first day of Exercise Predators Run.

Darwin mentioned in Canberra amid defence committee bill

A senior coalition member has lashed out at a plan by the Greens to cancel defence contracts and shut down military bases, including the likes of Pine Gap, in a bid to stifle foreign military activity.

The Opposition spokesman for Defence Andrew Hastie wants a new defence committee to be restricted to Labor and Liberal members.

"The Greens plan includes ‘Renegotiate the US alliance to secure a new relationship focused on making us a better global citizen’ and ‘Close all military bases that foreign militaries have set up in this country’.”

“Of course, that would include Pine Gap, a really critical part of our alliance,” he said.

“It would also include the closure of any defence establishments in Darwin that support the current footprint of the Marine Expeditionary Force, which works so closely with the Australian Defence Force.”

“Liberals are trying to stop the Greens from joining a new defence committee because of policies like: be a good global citizen; close foreign bases and Pine Gap; the U.S.A. alliance; end AUKUS. Could you imagine if the ALP and Liberals had to consider these very popular policies?”