Japan Urges US Military To Ground Osprey Planes After Latest Accident
In the wake of a U.S. military plane crash off the coast of Japan’s Yakushima Island Wednesday, the Japanese government has urged the Pentagon to ground the operations of its Osprey hybrid planes in te country.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa said Friday it has been informed by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo that it received a formal request from its Asian ally to suspend flying Osprey transport aircraft until the aircraft can be confirmed as safe.
Reports quoting the Japan Coast Guard said that it received information that a CV-22 Osprey crashed into waters off the coast of Yakushima Island in southern Kagoshima prefecture at around 2:47 p.m. local time, or 12:47 a.m. ET.
One person has been found dead at the crash site, according to the Coast Guard spokesperson.
The CV-22 Osprey’s left engine was on fire, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.
It was trying to land at Yakushima Airport when the accident occurred.
However, the Pentagon did not mention about the casualties or the condition of those who were on board the plane at a news conference Thursday.
It confirmed that a CV-22A Osprey aircraft assigned to the U.S. Air Force’s 353rd Special Operations Wing was involved in an aviation mishap off the shore of Yakushima Island. There were eight airmen on board, according to Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh.
The Osprey aircraft is based out of Yokota Air Base, Japan, in Tokyo, and was performing a routine training mission off the shore of Yakushima Island — about 630 miles southwest of Tokyo, she said at a press briefing.
Search and rescue operations are underway to locate both the aircrew and their aircraft, she added.
The cause of this incident is being investigated.
Singh said that U.S-owned Ospreys in Japan continue to operate.
“We have a commitment to safety. There is an investigation that is currently determining and looking into what exactly happened with this aircraft and the mishap. Should that investigation yield [any] results that require the department to change anything about the Osprey or to take additional steps, we will certainly do that,” she told reporters.
Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara said that the defense ministry has information about multiple takeoffs and landings by U.S. MV-22 Ospreys at the U.S. military’s Futenma air base in Okinawa Prefecture Thursday.
Sabrina Singh said officials at Yokota Air Base have set up an “Emergency Family Assistance Center” to support families of Airmen who were on the aircraft and others at the installation who were affected by the accident.
The CV-22 Osprey is a multi-mission, tiltrotor military aircraft with both vertical takeoff and landing and short takeoff and landing capabilities. It is designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.
Years ago, Okinawa residents had voiced concerns about the safety of Osprey planes.
The U.S. military’s other aircraft in this series have been involved in accidents previously, some of which were fatal.
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