At least one service member was killed when a V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft crashed into the sea off the coast of Japan today. Details of the incident are still emerging, but U.S. military officials have confirmed that there were eight service members onboard at the time of the crash. There are currently no details available as to the condition of the other seven.
We have reached out to the U.S. military for more details, with the Marine Corps having now confirmed to us that it was not one of their Ospreys involved.
While initial reports stated that the Osprey involved was a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B, Hiroyuki Miyazawa, Japan’s vice defense minister, told Japanese media that the incident involved a CV-22B from the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force’s 21st Special Operations Squadron flies this type from Yokota Air Base. A tweet from the Japanese Ministry of Defense that also said it was a CV-22B that crashed was later deleted, however. Japan, too, operates the MV-22B version.
The Osprey came down around 3:00 pm local time today, off Yakushima Island, western Japan. That island is located around 45 miles south of the Kagoshima region on the southern main island of Kyushu.
In response to the crash, the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) deployed search-and-rescue vessels and aircraft to the area and at least one U.S. Marine Corps KC-130J also appears to have been involved in this effort. An aerial photo has since been released by the JCG showing what is thought to be a portion of wreckage from the Osprey, which was found at around 4:00 pm local time, in waters southeast of the airport on Yakushima Island. As well as the wreckage, the JCG said it recovered an overturned life raft, but there were no people in it.
The single service member recovered so far was taken from the sea “unconscious and was not breathing,” according to the JCG. They were found 1.8 miles from Anbo Port, on the eastern side of Yakushima. They were taken by boat from the Yakushima Town Rescue Center and onward to Anbo Port. Although they received CPR, the unnamed crew member was later pronounced dead.
Search-and-rescue efforts continued as of 7:00 pm local time.
Last year saw the loss of an Osprey near El Centro, California, killing five Marines, in June 2022. Another four Marines were killed in March last year when an MV-22B crashed during maneuvers in Norway.
Combined with other incidents, those Osprey crashes led to a “safety pause” for all non-deployed Navy and Marine aircraft that went into effect in June last year.
This is a developing story and we will continue to update it as more information becomes available.
Update: 10:14 a.m. Eastern -
U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) just issued a media release:
A United States Air Force CV-22B Osprey from Yokota Air Base, Japan, assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Wing, was involved in an aircraft mishap while performing a routine training mission off the shore of Yakushima Island, Japan with eight airmen on board.
The crew’s conditions are unknown at this time.
Emergency personnel are on the scene conducting search and rescue operations. The cause of the mishap is currently unknown.
Update: 10:40 a.m. Eastern -
An earlier version of this story stated that the Osprey was carrying six service members at the time of the mishap, based on what were then the latest statements from local officials. The U.S. Air Force has now confirmed that there were eight on board, as some previous reports had indicated.
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