- A US Air Force special operations aircraft has been stuck on a remote island in Norway for weeks.
- Norway's military said soldiers have made progress recovering the CV-22 Osprey from a nature preserve.
- Using wooden planks and gravel, soldiers made a makeshift road and moved the aircraft over 50 feet.
A broken-down US Air Force CV-22 Osprey has been stuck in a remote Arctic nature preserve for over a month, but Norwegian soldiers are making tangible progress on getting it out.
The aircraft made a "controlled emergency landing" due to a clutch malfunction in Norway's Stongodden nature preserve on August 12, and the the special operations tilt-rotor aircraft has been stuck on the northern island of Senja ever since.
But Norway's military said on Tuesday that it's Armed Forces Salvage Battalion has managed to move the $ 90 million aircraft a little over 50 feet — an impressive feat given it weighs over 33,000 pounds.
To do this, Norwegian army engineers built a makeshift path by stacking wooden mats next to each other, making an improvised road running from where the Osprey is stranded down to the shore. Closer to the water, engineers are working to build up the path by pouring gravel on top of the rocks.
Once soldiers move the Osprey — which had its fuel drained so that it's lighter and easier to transport — down to the shore, the plan is to use a crane boat to lift the aircraft and bring it to a NATO port in Norway for maintenance.
The entire operation is being done in communication with the US Air Force and local environmental officials to ensure that as little harm as possible comes to the protected plants and animals in the preserve, Norway's military said.
Hoisting the Osprey onto the crane boat was supposed to happen earlier this week, according to the Norwegian military, but bad weather in the western part of the country has delayed operations. The military hopes to complete this step by Sunday though.
"The preparations are going as they should," Norway's military said on Tuesday.
The following military photos show how Norwegian soldiers have managed to move the aircraft closer to the water.
The clutch malfunction that grounded the aircraft is one of a handful of mechanical failures that led US Air Force Special Operations Command's to temporarily ground its Ospreys last month.
"These things never seem to happen at airfields," Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, head of Air Force Special Operations Command, said at an Air & Space Forces Association event earlier in September. "They always seem to happen in Norwegian nature preserves above the Arctic Circle at the onset of winter."
Slife added that the situation has "provided a really great tactical problem for that unit," referring to the military personnel working to recover the Osprey and "figure out what to do with that airplane out in the middle of a nature preserve with protected ferns and salamanders and things like that."