U.S. Military Osprey Aircraft Crashes Near Japan, At Least One Dead

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A Japan Coast Guard vessel and a helicopter conduct search and rescue operations at the site where a U.S. military MV-22 Osprey aircraft crashed into the sea off Yakushima Island, Kagoshima prefecture, southwest Japan, Nov. 29, 2023, in a photo taken by Kyodo. KYODO VIA REUTERS

An Osprey aircraft belonging to the U.S. military crashed into the sea near the Japanese island of Yakushima on Wednesday, resulting in at least one confirmed fatality. The aircraft, carrying six individuals, encountered trouble off the coast of southern Japan, a region of significant strategic importance for U.S. military operations in the Pacific.

Japan’s coast guard, which led the search and rescue operation, confirmed the recovery of one individual who was found “unconscious and not breathing” near the crash site. Despite immediate resuscitation efforts, the crew member was later pronounced dead. The fate of the other five individuals remains uncertain as search operations continue.

A Japanese coast guard vessel conducts search and rescue operation around the site off Yakushima on Tuesday.AP

Initial reports had indicated eight people were on board the Osprey; however, this figure was later revised to six. The cause of the crash remains under investigation, with witnesses reporting fire in the aircraft’s left engine prior to the incident. The aircraft, identified as a CV-22 Osprey from the U.S. Air Force Yokota Air Base, was en route from the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa when it crashed.

The Osprey, a tiltrotor aircraft that can take off and land like a helicopter but fly as a fixed-wing plane, has been involved in several accidents in recent years. This includes a fatal crash during a training exercise in Australia in August, resulting in the deaths of three U.S. Marines.

The U.S. military presence in Japan, particularly at Kadena Air Base, is a key part of the region’s defense strategy, especially amid growing tensions in the Asia-Pacific region. The incident has cast a spotlight on the Osprey’s safety record, which has been a topic of concern following multiple fatal accidents.

Japanese Defense Ministry officials have called for thorough cooperation with the U.S. military to investigate the crash and ensure the safety of operations involving Osprey aircraft. The U.S. military has yet to issue a detailed statement regarding the incident.