Discovery of Additional Osprey Crew in Japan Crash Wreckage Raises Concerns

Japanese media reported on Monday that divers from the U.S. military and Japan’s Marine Self-Defense Forces have discovered a significant portion of the fuselage of an Osprey aircraft that crashed last week in southwest Japan.

According to state broadcaster NHK, the submerged wreckage, including the cockpit of the tilt-rotor U.S. Air Force aircraft, holds the bodies of five of the eight crew members on board. The discovery was also reported by CBS News partner network TBS and other outlets.

Previously, only one crew member’s remains had been found and identified as Staff Sgt. Jacob Galliher, 24, from Massachusetts. The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command had assigned him to the 43rd Intelligence Squadron as a direct support operator.

The U.S. Air Force stated that the search operation, which now includes the U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, its air wing, and other assets, along with unmanned vehicles, is ongoing. Divers are actively participating in the extensive search operation.

The crash of the U.S. Air Force CV-22 last week marked the first fatal Osprey accident in Japan. The training flight, originating from Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, requested an emergency landing on the island of Yakushima before crashing into the ocean. Eyewitnesses reported the aircraft flipping over, bursting into flames, and then plunging into the water.

The Japan Coast Guard, assisted by local fishermen, has been conducting continuous search and rescue operations off Yakushima, Kagoshima Prefecture, since the incident. Some wreckage found in the water has been handed over to the U.S. military, which has exclusive rights to investigate the accident under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Japan.

The recent crash has caused concern and anger in Japan, prompting the government to request the grounding of U.S. Ospreys in the country for thorough safety inspections. While Japan has temporarily grounded its own Ospreys, the U.S. military continues to fly the aircraft, leading to concerns about potential damage to bilateral ties between Washington and Tokyo.

Japan, the only other nation operating Ospreys, has urged revisions to the bilateral agreement with the U.S. that governs the presence of tens of thousands of U.S. forces in the country. The incident has strained U.S.-Japan relations amid China’s expansion in the region, potentially affecting Japan’s efforts to gain local support for a planned Osprey deployment in southwest Saga Prefecture in 2025.

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