One Dead, Seven Missing After Two Japanese Military Helicopters Crash

Helicopters Crashed

One person has been confirmed dead and seven are missing after two Japanese military helicopters apparently collided and crashed into the sea late Saturday, according to officials. Here are some details according to the report of The Philippine Star.

Details of the Incident

A spokesman for Japan’s Self-Defense Force (SDF) confirmed the accident to AFP, stating that rescuers found one person, who later died. Defense Minister Minoru Kihara stated that rescuers found parts believed to be from the helicopters in the sea. This suggests that the two aircraft likely collided before crashing. The exact cause of the crash is currently unknown.

“The possibility is high that the two helicopters collided,” Kihara told reporters, noting that flight recorders from both helicopters were found in close proximity to each other. The helicopters appear to have crashed during a night-time submarine countermeasure training drill off the Izu Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

The helicopters, operating near Torishima Island, lost communication at 10:38 pm local time (1338 GMT), and an emergency signal came through a minute later. Approximately 25 minutes after the initial communication loss, the military realized that they had also lost contact with the second helicopter in the same area.

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) is analyzing the flight recorders recovered from the helicopter crash. Additionally, they are interviewing the crew from a third helicopter that was part of the training exercise but not involved in the accident.

A String of Military Crashes in Japan

Japan’s military has experienced several fatal aircraft accidents in recent years. In April 2023, a Japanese army UH-60JA helicopter with 10 people on board crashed off Miyako Island in Okinawa, with no survivors. Similarly, in January 2022, a Japanese fighter jet crashed in waters off central Ishikawa, killing both pilots. Other notable accidents include a 2019 crash involving an F-35A stealth jet and a 2022 crash involving a US Osprey military aircraft off Japan’s coast.

Japan is strengthening its defense capabilities and deepening cooperation with the United States and other nations. Rising regional security concerns, notably China’s assertiveness and North Korea’s unpredictability, drive this shift. The latest helicopter crash underscores the need for rigorous safety measures in military training and operations. Further investigations are underway to determine the cause of this tragic accident and prevent future incidents.

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