In a tragic incident, a U.S. military Osprey aircraft crashed into the ocean near Japan's Yakushima Island on Wednesday, with eight crew members on board. The Japan Coast Guard reported the accident at approximately 2:47 p.m. local time (05:47 GMT).
Details of the Crash
The eyewitnesses claim that the aircraft's left engine was ablaze as it descended towards the sea. The Coast Guard received an emergency call from a fishing boat near the crash site off Yakushima, a southern island of Kagoshima on Japan's main southern island of Kyushu. The exact origin of the ill-fated Osprey is yet to be determined, but it is believed to have been en route from Iwakuni to Okinawa.
Osprey's Troubled History
The Osprey aircraft, known for its capability to operate both as a helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft, is used by the U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy and the Japan Self Defense Forces. This is not the first time the Osprey has been involved in a crash. In August, a U.S. Osprey crashed off the coast of Northern Australia during a routine military exercise, leading to the death of three U.S. Marines. Prior to that, another Osprey had crash-landed into the ocean off the southern island of Okinawa in Japan in December 2016, which led to a temporary grounding of the aircraft by the U.S. military.
Controversies Surrounding the Osprey
The deployment of the Osprey in Japan has sparked controversy with critics alleging that the hybrid aircraft is prone to accidents. However, the U.S. military and Japan have defended the aircraft's safety record. The current crash is yet another grim reminder of the potential risks associated with the Osprey aircraft, and is likely to intensify the ongoing debate over its deployment.