A US Army Osprey air transport aircraft crashed at sea on Wednesday, November 29, in southern Japan, with eight people on board, the Japanese Coast Guard announced. The hybrid transport vehicle “crashed near the island of Yakushima,” according to information received “at 2:47 p.m. [6:47 a.m. Paris time],” said a coast guard spokesperson. at Agence France-Presse.

“His crew was eight people,” she added. Coast guard planes and boats were dispatched to the scene of the accident.

“The government is in the process of confirming” the extent of the tragedy, with the priority objective of “saving lives,” declared Japanese government spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno. According to the Japanese public television channel NHK, this aircraft – half-plane, half-helicopter – left the American naval air base of Iwakuni, near Hiroshima (western Japan), to go to another American military base, in Okinawa, at the southwest tip of the Archipelago.

Osprey reliability is debated

Still according to NHK, it was more precisely a CV-22 Osprey belonging to the American air base at Yokota (near Tokyo). Resulting from a cooperation between the American manufacturer Boeing and the helicopter specialist Bell, the Osprey is equipped with tilting rotors allowing it to take off and land vertically, and to fly like an airplane.

However, the reliability of this hybrid machine has been debated for a long time, due to numerous fatal accidents. At the end of August, three US Marines were killed in the crash of an Osprey in northern Australia while participating in joint US-Australian military maneuvers.

In 2022, four US Marines also lost their lives in Norway when their Osprey crashed during NATO exercises. A vehicle of the same type from the American army was also damaged at sea in 2017 after hitting the rear of a ship as part of American-Australian military exercises, killing three people. In April 2000, nineteen marines were killed when an Osprey crashed in Arizona (southwest United States).