USAF Osprey crashes off Japan coast, one dead, five missing

Alan Wilson / Wikimedia Commons

A US Air Force V-22 Osprey transport tiltrotor aircraft has reportedly crashed off the coast of Yakushima Island in southwestern Japan.

The crash, first reported by the Japanese public broadcaster NHK, occurred on the afternoon of November 29, 2023.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense stated that the aircraft belonged to Yokota Air Base, a joint Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) and United States Air Force base in western Tokyo.

Initially bound for Kadena Air Base, the Osprey changed its destination to Yakushima and crashed while heading to Yakushima Airport. The left engine of the aircraft was reportedly on fire.

Japanese patrol boats and aircraft were immediately dispatched to the reported crash site. A helicopter dispatched for the search reportedly spotted debris resembling aircraft wreckage. The body of one of the six occupants was recovered. Others are still missing.

AeroTime sent a request for comment to the Japanese Ministry of Defense.

Recurring safety concerns

The Osprey, officially known as the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, is a unique military aircraft that combines the capabilities of a helicopter and an airplane. It features tiltrotor technology, allowing its rotors to tilt vertically for takeoff and landing and horizontally for forward flight.

The Osprey performs a wide range of missions, including troop transport, cargo delivery, search and rescue, and special operations. In addition to various US military branches, the Osprey is also utilized by Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force. 

Japan has witnessed a whole series of Osprey unplanned landings, with a total of three such incidents within a week in September 2023, and another on October 19, 2023.

On September 18, 2023, the USMC directed all its aviation units to conduct a two-day stand-down in flight operations following three Class-A aviation mishaps involving Marine aircraft over the previous six weeks, including a fatal V-22 crash in Australia.

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