By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Nov. 30, 2023) -- On Tuesday, a CV-22A Osprey Aircraft assigned to the Air Force's 353rd Special Operations Wing was involved in an aviation mishap off the shore of Yakushima Island, Japan. There were eight airmen on board. Search and rescue operations are now underway to locate both the aircrew and their aircraft.
The Osprey aircraft is based out of Yokota Air Base, Japan, in Tokyo, and was performing a routine training mission off the shore of Yakushima Island -- about 630 miles southwest of Tokyo.
"Emergency personnel remain on scene conducting search and rescue operations," Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said during a press briefing today. "The cause of this incident is currently under investigation. Our thoughts are with the unit and their families. And we'd like to thank the government of Japan and the Japanese Coast Guard for all their assistance."
Singh said that U.S-owned Ospreys in Japan continue to operate while search and rescue operations continue and an investigation into the mishap remains ongoing.
"As of right now, we are still continuing to operate the Osprey aircraft," Singh said. "We have a commitment to safety. There is an investigation that is currently determining and looking into what exactly happened with this aircraft and the mishap. Should that investigation yield [any] results that require the department to change anything about the Osprey or to take additional steps, we will certainly do that."
Right now, she said, the immediate focus of the department is on the rescue efforts for the eight missing airmen.
In response to the aviation mishap, officials at Yokota Air Base have set up an "Emergency Family Assistance Center," to support families of Airmen who were on the aircraft and others at the installation who were affected by the aircraft mishap.
The EFAC will, among other things, provide a central gathering point for those affected by the mishap to receive counseling, assistance and available information.