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“Osprey Aircraft Crash” in the Context of U.S.-Japan Military Cooperation

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Japanese coast guard officials have reported that one person from the United States (U.S.) military Osprey aircraft, which crashed on November 29, 2023, has been found. Coast Guard spokesperson Kazuo Ogawa said that the cause of the crash and the condition of the other people on board were unknown.[1]

The Japan Coast Guard said it received an emergency call from a fishing boat off Yakushima, off the southern Kyushu Island. Japanese coast guard aircraft and patrol boats responding to the scene found pieces of gray debris believed to be from the aircraft and a person of unknown condition.[2]

Part of the U.S. military, the Osprey is a hybrid aircraft capable of taking off and landing like a helicopter and, at the same time, traveling much faster like an airplane by tilting its rotors forward. Different versions of the aircraft are used by the US Navy, Marines and Air Force. Japan has said that the plane took off from the US Naval Air Station Iwakuni and crashed en route to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. It is indicated that the aircraft apparently attempted an emergency landing at Yakushima Airport but was unsuccessful.[3]

US and Japanese officials said the plane belonged to Yokota Air Base, west of Tokyo. Officials from the U.S. Air Force at Yokota have announced that they are attempting to confirm the information and will not provide immediate comments. Another US Navy Osprey crashed on an island in northern Australia in August 2023 during a multinational training exercise, killing at least three people and seriously injuring at least five others. There have been at least five Osprey accidents since 2012, killing at least 19 people.[4]

This incident renews scrutiny on the reliability and usage of the Osprey aircraft. The Osprey stands out as a hybrid aircraft combining helicopter and airplane capabilities. However, previous accidents and safety concerns have led to criticism of this technology. The causes of such accidents and recurrent issues necessitate a thorough examination of technological advancements in military aircraft.

This incident highlights the importance of cooperation and communication between the US and Japanese military units. Effective communication and information sharing on the causes and consequences of the incident can play a critical role in crisis management and prevention of similar situations. Protocols may need to be revised to ensure a more effective flow of information between the two countries.

It is stated that the aircraft attempted to make an emergency landing at Yakushima Airport. This could be evaluated in terms of the effectiveness of safety protocols and emergency response. More effective procedures for emergency landings and rescue operations may need to be developed.

The recall of previous accidents involving Osprey aircraft raises a general concern about the design, maintenance and use of such aircraft. This incident may raise a general concern about the safety of these aircraft and encourage an international assessment.

Such accidents can call into question the safety of military training and exercises. Military units could focus more on the level of training of personnel and protocols for planning and conducting exercises. It is important to identify lessons to be learned from such incidents.

In conclusion, it is important to await the results of the official investigations in order to better understand the reasons behind the incident and possible solutions.


[1] “US Military Osprey Aircraft with 8 Aboard Crashes into the Sea off Southern Japan”, Associated Press News, https://apnews.com/article/japan-us-military-osprey-helicopter-crash-7d704ec5925826593aebcf0e7d1312ca, (Access date: 29.11.2023).

[2] Ibıd.

[3] Ibıd.

[4] Ibıd.

Zeki Talustan GÜLTEN
Zeki Talustan GÜLTEN
Zeki Talustan Gülten graduated from Yalova University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Department of International Relations in 2021 with his graduation thesis titled "American Foreign Policy" and from Anadolu University, Open Education Faculty, Department of Foreign Trade in 2023. Gülten, who is currently pursuing her Master's Degree with Thesis at Marmara University Institute of Social Sciences, Department of International Relations, was a student at the Faculty of International and Political Studies at Lodz University for a semester within the framework of the Erasmus+ program during her undergraduate education. Working as an Asia-Pacific Research Assistant at ANKASAM, Gülten's main areas of interest are American Foreign Policy, Asia-Pacific and International Law. Gülten is fluent in English.