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On Sunday, Navy divers retrieved the body of the seventh out of eight crew members from a US military Osprey aircraft that had crashed while conducting a training mission near southern Japan.
On November 29, the Air Force CV-22 Osprey crashed near Yakushima Island in southwest Japan while en route to Okinawa. The remains of six crew members have been found, with five of them retrieved from the submerged wreckage of the plane.
The US Air Force Special Operations Command released a statement confirming that one of the missing crew members was found by Navy divers. The identity of the airman has been established, but it will not be disclosed until their next of kin has been informed, according to the command.
“At present, a collaborative effort is underway to locate and retrieve the remains of our eighth airman,” the statement read.
One week following the accident, and after multiple warnings from the Japanese government regarding safety issues, the US military halted all use of their Osprey V-22 helicopters. This decision was made after a preliminary investigation suggested that there was a non-human error that occurred with the aircraft.
The Osprey, a product of the United States, is a unique aircraft that combines the abilities of a helicopter and an airplane. It is capable of vertical takeoff and landing like a helicopter, but can also tilt its propellers forward for faster cruising during flight.
The recent accident sparked concerns about the reliability of the Osprey, as it has been implicated in several fatal incidents during its limited time in use. Following the crash, Japan has suspended the use of all 14 of its Osprey aircraft.
Defense officials in Japan have stated that the Ospreys play a crucial role in the nation’s military expansion, particularly in the southwestern region, due to the increasing danger posed by China. However, the recent crash has reignited concerns and sparked public demonstrations in locations where more Ospreys are expected to be stationed.
The Japanese government has faced criticism from residents and media for their lack of effort in grounding the Ospreys sooner and obtaining information about the crash.