Two Japanese military helicopters crash during an exercise, one dead and seven missing

Two Japan Self-Defense Force (JSF) helicopters crashed into the sea late Saturday evening. A crew member was found dead and seven others are still missing, Japanese authorities announced on Sunday April 21. They said the helicopters crashed off the coast of the Izu Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

The devices participated in a “nighttime anti-submarine warfare exercise”Defense Minister Minoru Kihara told the press. “For now, the cause [de l’accident] is unknown, for the moment we are giving priority to saving lives. » Probable debris from these devices was spotted by sea rescue services, added the minister.

Hours later, Mr. Kihara told reporters that the death of the crew member who had been rescued “has been confirmed”. Seven other people are still missing. He also said that the ministry had “discovered the flight recorders in locations close to each other”and that he was therefore “very possible that [les deux hélicoptères] collided”.

“The flight recorders are being analyzed and authorities are questioning the crew of a third helicopter which participated in the exercise but was not involved in the accident”said Navy Chief of Staff Ryo Sakai.

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A previous fatal accident

Communication with one of the devices was lost at 10:38 p.m. local time (3:38 p.m. Paris time) on Saturday. Some twenty-five minutes later, authorities realized that communication with the second helicopter had also been lost, according to public broadcaster NHK. These were two Mitsubishi SH-60Ks, Japanese-made patrol helicopters belonging to the Maritime Self-Defense Force, the naval branch of the FJA.

A year earlier, a Japanese military helicopter of another model (UH-60JA) crashed into the sea in the Okinawa area (southwest of Japan), killing its ten occupants. And in November, an Osprey of the American military forces based in Japan crashed at sea, causing the death of its eight crew members.

Japan, a close ally of the United States, is considerably increasing its defense budget to adapt to growing tensions in the Asia-Pacific, between China’s increasingly assertive territorial claims and repeated threats from North Korea. In the region.

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The World with AFP

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