U.S. military Osprey aircraft crashes into sea near Japan

TOKYO — A U.S. military Osprey aircraft with eight people on board crashed into the sea near an island off southern Japan on Wednesday morning, officials said.

A regional coast guard spokesperson confirmed to NBC News that the plane crashed into the ocean near Yakushima, an island about 45 miles south of the Kagoshima region on the southern main island of Kyushu.

The spokesperson said the plane belonged to the U.S. military but couldn’t say where it was based. There were no immediate details available on the status of the aircraft or those on board.

The coast guard said in a statement that a member of the public called 118, Japan’s version of 911, at 2:47 p.m. (12:47 a.m. ET). The coast guard said it immediately deployed patrol vessels and aircraft to the scene.

At 4 p.m. (2 a.m. ET) a rescue team including boats from the coast guard and a local rescue center found “wreckage-like debris” and an overturned life raft, the coast guard said.

NBC News has contacted Kadena Air Base on the island of Okinawa, the largest U.S. Air Force base in the region, but did not immediately received any comment.

The MV-22 Osprey is a hybrid aircraft famous for its unique “tiltrotor” flight system, which allows it to take off and land like a helicopter but fly like an airplane.

There have been a number of fatal accidents involving the aircraft in recent years.

An Osprey with 23 U.S. marines on board crashed in Australia in August during a routine training exercise, killing three including its pilot.

All five U.S. marines on board an MV-22 died after it crashed in San Diego during a training mission in August 2022, following the death of four U.S. marines on board an MV-22 in Norway five months earlier.

The Defense Department stood by its use of the plane in 2015 after one marine was killed and 21 injured in crash at a military base in Hawaii.

Developed by Boeing and Bell Helicopters, the MV-22 has two rotors on each wing, allowing it to take off and land like a helicopter, known as VTOL — vertical takeoff and landing. The rotors can rotate forward 90 degrees once in flight, allowing it to operate like a conventional rotor-powered plane.

This is a developing story, check back here for updates.

Arata Yamamoto reported from Tokyo, and Patrick Smith from London.



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