The U.S. and Japanese military continued a search and rescue operation for seven missing CV-22B Osprey crew members Friday, two days after the tiltrotor aircraft they were on board crashed off the coast of Japan.
The remains of one crew member on board the aircraft at the time of the mishap have been recovered, Air Forces Special Operations Command (AFSOC) confirmed in a statement Friday morning. According to the command, the seven remaining aircrew were considered to be in “duty status-whereabouts unknown” status.
The CV-22B assigned to the Air Force’s 353rd Special Operations Wing at Yokota Air Base, Japan went down offshore of Yakushima Island Wednesday afternoon during a routine training mission.
“Search and rescue operations consist of a combination of air, surface, and subsurface search of water and coastline in the vicinity of Yakushima, Japan in order to locate the crewmembers,” AFSOC said. Units involved in the operation included Pacific Air Forces; U.S. Pacific Fleet; U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific; Special Operations Command Pacific; 353rd Special Operations Wing; 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan; 1st Special Forces Group; Japan Coast Guard; and Japanese Self-Defense Forces.
Thursday, Japanese military officials announced the country’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) would suspend operations of its fleet of 14 Ospreys until the cause of the crash was clarified. As of Friday, however, U.S. military operations of Ospreys remained ongoing, according to Japan’s top military official.
“As far as I can confirm based on the latest information, the Ministry of Defense, and visual information, since the accident occurred, U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys have been flown a total of 46 times at Futenma Air Base and Kadena,” Japan defense minister Minoru Kihara told reporters Friday. “We confirmed that the U.S. Navy’s CMV Osprey took off and landed at Kadena Air Base a total of four times, and the U.S. Navy’s CMV Osprey took off and landed at Kadena Air Base a total of six times,” he said.
“Right now, the Ospreys are still operating in Japan,” Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh told reporters Thursday.
“It’s currently under investigation to see exactly what happened. If the investigation concludes that there need to be additional steps taken, we’ll certainly do that, but at this time, the investigation is underway on what happened,” she said.