U.S. Military Halts All V-22 Osprey Aircraft Operations Following Crash in Japan

Following a fatal crash last week off the coast of Japan that claimed the lives of eight individuals, the U.S. military announced on Wednesday that it would be grounding its fleet of V-22 Osprey aircraft.

Japan had already taken similar measures by grounding its own small fleet of these tilt-rotor aircraft, which have been a source of controversy due to concerns about their safety.

“Preliminary investigation information indicates a potential materiel failure caused the mishap, but the underlying cause of the failure is unknown at this time,” stated the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC).

The tragic incident occurred during a routine training mission off Yakushima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture.

Boeing reports that at least 400 V-22 Osprey aircraft have been delivered and are predominantly used by the U.S. Air Force, Marines, and Navy.

Immediately after the crash, Japan grounded its fleet and requested that the U.S. suspend flights of its V-22s operating in the country. While the U.S. initially stated it would only be suspending flights from the affected unit, it ultimately decided to ground the entire fleet after safety checks.

It is standard procedure for the U.S. military to ground entire fleets following fatal accidents. A spokesperson for Japan’s defense ministry confirmed that their aircraft remain grounded as well.

“It goes without saying that ensuring flight safety is the highest priority in the operation of aircraft,” stated Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno. “We will continue to request information sharing with the U.S. side to ensure flight safety.”

The deployment of the V-22 Osprey aircraft in Japan has faced opposition, particularly from residents of the country’s southwest Okinawan islands, which have hosted a large U.S. military presence since World War II.

An Osprey crash in 2016 also resulted in the U.S. grounding its fleet of the aircraft in Japan.

According to the Flight Safety Foundation, there have been at least 50 fatalities in crashes involving the V-22 Osprey, with over 20 occurring after the aircraft entered service in 2007.

In August, three U.S. Marines died in an Osprey crash off the coast of northern Australia while transporting troops during a routine military exercise.

In 2022, four U.S. personnel were killed in an Osprey crash in a remote part of northern Norway during a NATO training exercise.

© Thomson Reuters 2023.

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