According to a report by Flight Global, USAF officials believe brownout conditions caused the April 8 crash of a CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft that killed four, two Air Force Special Operations Command airmen, a US soldier, and a civilian. Flight Global attributes the information to “a source familiar with preliminary findings of the US military investigation.” DARPA and the services have been working for several years on varied solutions to the problem of brownout, the term used to describe a greatly reduced visibility condition often caused by rotary wing aircraft in desert-like terrain. (For more on brownout solutions, also see Special Operations Technology July 2009 report; Aviation Today April 2010 report)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.