Air Force: We've Found Wreckage of Downed Osprey

Divers discover aircraft debris, crew remains off southwestern Japan after crash last week
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 4, 2023 6:22 AM CST
Air Force: We've Found Wreckage of Downed Osprey
Members of the Japanese coast guard carry debris believed to be from the crashed US Osprey aircraft at a port in Yakushima, in the Kagoshima prefecture of Japan, on Monday.   (Kyodo News via AP)

US and Japanese divers have discovered wreckage and remains of crew members from a US Air Force Osprey aircraft that crashed last week off southwestern Japan, the Air Force announced Monday. The CV-22 Osprey carrying eight American personnel crashed Wednesday off Yakushima island during a training mission. The body of one victim was recovered and identified earlier, while seven others remained missing, per the AP. The Air Force Special Operations Command said the remains were being recovered and that their identities have yet to be determined.

"The main priority is bringing the airmen home and taking care of their family members," it said in a statement. "Support to, and the privacy of, the families and loved ones impacted by this incident remains AFSOC's top priority." The US military identified the one confirmed victim as Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob Galliher of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on Saturday. On Monday, divers from the Japanese navy and US military spotted what appeared to be the front section of the Osprey, along with possibly five of the missing crew members, Japan's NHK public television and other media reported. Japanese navy officials declined to confirm the reports, saying they couldn't release details without consent from the United States.

The US-made Osprey is a hybrid aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter but can rotate its propellers forward and cruise much faster, like an airplane, during flight. Ospreys have had a number of crashes, including in Japan, where they're used at US and Japanese military bases, and the latest accident rekindled safety concerns. Japan has suspended all flights of its own fleet of 14 Ospreys, and Japanese officials say they've asked the US military to resume Osprey flights only after ensuring their safety. The Pentagon said no such formal request has been made and that the US military is continuing to fly 24 MV-22s, the Marine version of Ospreys, deployed on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.

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On Sunday, pieces of wreckage that Japan's coast guard and local fishing boats have collected were handed over to the US military for examination, coast guard officials said. Japan's military said debris it has collected would also be handed over to the US. Coast guard officials said the recovered pieces of wreckage include parts of the aircraft and an inflatable life raft, but nothing related to the cause of the crash, such as an engine. Local witnesses reported seeing fire coming from one of the engines before the crash.

(More Osprey stories.)

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