Japanese Navy helicopters collide 8 assumed dead

TOKYO, JP – Two Japanese navy helicopters, each carrying four crew members, crashed into the Pacific Ocean during a nighttime training flight, according to Defense Minister Minoru Kihara. The incident occurred near Torishima Island, roughly 370 miles south of Tokyo. The helicopters, believed to have possibly collided, were part of the Maritime Self-Defense Force.

One crew member was recovered from the ocean but was later pronounced dead. The search continues for the remaining seven missing crew members. The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but the possibility of a collision between the two SH-60K helicopters is being considered.

Evidence supporting this theory includes a recovered flight data recorder, a blade from each helicopter, and fragments believed to be from both aircraft found in the same area. This suggests that the two helicopters were flying in close proximity to each other. The flight data will be analyzed to determine the cause of the crash.

The MSDF has deployed eight warships and five aircraft to aid in the search and rescue of the missing crew members. The helicopters, known as Seahawks, are twin-engine, multi-mission aircraft developed by Sikorsky and produced in Japan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. They were conducting nighttime anti-submarine training when contact was lost.

The Japanese navy was conducting the training exercise independently; no foreign aircraft or warships were in the vicinity. This incident comes as Japan has been bolstering its military presence in the Pacific and East China Sea in response to China’s growing military assertiveness.

This crash follows two similar incidents in recent years. Last year, a Ground Self-Defense Force UH-60 Blackhawk crashed, resulting in the death of all 10 crew members. Earlier this year, an Air Self-Defense F-15 fighter jet crashed, killing two crew members.