On Wednesday, a US military plane, carrying eight individuals, went down in the western waters of Japan. Various news sources have indicated the unfortunate death of one crew member, while the status of at least two individuals rescued from the sea remains uncertain.
The Japanese coast guard reported the discovery of debris believed to be from the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey, along with an individual found in a “non-responsive” state, approximately 3 km from Yakushima island.
Fishing vessels in the vicinity discovered three individuals in the nearby waters, as reported by a representative from a local fisheries cooperative. The spokesperson added that the condition of these individuals remains uncertain.
A different Osprey successfully landed at the island’s airport on Wednesday afternoon, coinciding with the time of the crash, according to a spokesperson from the local government. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the US forces in the region mentioned that they were in the process of collecting information.
After its World War II defeat, the United States, committed to defending Japan, maintains approximately 54,000 troops in the country, with a significant presence in the strategically vital southern island chain. This presence is in response to the increasing assertiveness of the Chinese military in the South China Sea.
The incident occurred shortly before 3 p.m., and according to witnesses, the left engine of the aircraft seemed to be ablaze during its descent, as reported by the media. Japan, which similarly utilizes Osprey aircraft, stated on Wednesday that there were no intentions to suspend the operation of the aircraft.
However, they have requested the US military to conduct an investigation into the crash.
Collaboratively designed by Boeing and Bell Helicopter, the Osprey possesses the capability to operate as both a helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft. It is utilized by the US Marines, US Navy, and the Japan Self Defense Forces.
The introduction of the Osprey in Japan has sparked controversy, with skeptics contending that it is susceptible to accidents. In contrast, both the US military and Japan assert that it is a safe aircraft.