Japan has asked the U.S. military to ground all flights of the CV-22 Osprey aircraft after a mishap Wednesday killed at least one American crew member, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Search and rescue efforts by Japan’s coast guard, police and military are still underway in the sea off southern Japan after an Osprey operated by U.S. Air Force special operations forces appeared to crash while making an emergency water landing, the WSJ reported. The Osprey, which blends capabilities of a helicopter and an airplane, has become known for involvement in several fatal accidents over the years and sparked the Marine Corps to pledge an overhaul of safety practices.
Japan’s defense ministry submitted a request to the commander of U.S. Forces Japan to ground all Osprey flights except those conducted for search and rescue missions until an evaluation of the aircraft’s safety concludes, the WSJ reported. Japanese foreign minister Yoko Kamikawa asked U.S. Ambassador Rahm Emanuel to do the same.
“Our focus is on the ongoing search and rescue operations, and we’re praying for a safe return,” Emanuel said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, but did not comment on the request.
He told Kamikawa that the U.S. was investigating the incident and planned to coordinate with Japan on such efforts, a spokesperson for the embassy told the WSJ.
U.S. Ospreys made at least a dozen flights from the time Japan asked the U.S. military to pause flights Thursday morning to late afternoon local time, a Japanese defense ministry official told the WSJ.
Japan also suspended flights of its own Ospreys until more information about the cause of Wednesday’s incident emerges, according to the outlet.
Seven U.S. airmen on board the CV-22 version of the aircraft that crashed Wednesday near the island of Yakushima have not yet been recovered, Japan’s coast guard said, according to the WSJ. Rescue personnel found one airman shortly after the crash, who was later confirmed dead.
Recovery efforts also retrieved gray-colored debris likely from the aircraft from the water, the coast guard previously said, according to The Associated Press.
Eyewitnesses said that one engine burst into flames before the aircraft plunged into the water, the AP reported. Others said it spun on its back and appeared to catch fire, according to the WSJ.
U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command said the CV-22 Osprey was conducting a routine training exercise with eight on board in a statement Wednesday.
The Osprey is a hybrid aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing, like a helicopter, but can travel forward at faster speeds like an airplane. The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps each operate versions of the Osprey.
U.S. Forces Japan and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
Micaela Burrow on November 30, 2023