US loses first Osprey in Afghanistan, 4 dead

April 9, 2010 21:04

KABUL — A US Air Force Osprey went down in southeastern Afghanistan, the US military said Friday, killing three service members and one civilian contractor in the first crash of the costly tilt-rotor aircraft in a combat zone.

It's unclear what caused the crash of the US military's latest generation transport aircraft — beset for years by cost overruns and design flaws.

A NATO statement said "numerous other service members" were injured when the aircraft, which takes off and lands like a helicopter, crashed late Thursday seven miles (11 kilometers) from Qalat, capital of Zabul province about 200 miles (300 kilometers) southwest of Kabul.

A Taliban spokesman said terrorists shot down the aircraft, but the insurgents often make exaggerated claims. NATO said the cause was still under investigation. A Pentagon spokesman, Marine Maj. Shawn Turner, said it was the first time that an Osprey, which cost nearly $70 million apiece, has crashed during operations in a war zone.

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