Japan calls for Ospreys to be grounded after Okinawa crash
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japanese officials are calling for MV-22 Osprey on Okinawa to be grounded after one of the helicopter-plane hybrids crashed into the sea Tuesday.
The request was conveyed to Marine Corps officials early Wednesday by Minister of Defense Tomomi Inada, said a spokesman from her office.
Marine officials scheduled a news conference for Wednesday afternoon. It is expected they will temporarily ground the aircraft, as is customary after a crash.
The incident occurred around 10 p.m. Tuesday in shallow water off the Okinawan coast. The five crew members on board — including two who were injured — were rescued by airmen from Kadena Air Base’s 33rd and 31st Rescue Squadrons. The crew was taken to the naval hospital at Camp Foster for treatment.
The Osprey first deployed to Okinawa in 2012 despite vocal opposition due to several high-profile crashes in its development. The aircraft became a symbol to protesters who wanted to see a smaller American presence on the tiny Japanese island. But it also has been praised by the military for flexibility in missions and has become a workhorse.
Tuesday’s crash is expected to reinvigorate protesters trying to block the relocation of air operations from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in central Okinawa to the island’s remote north.
This story will be updated.
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