Japan asks US military to ground Osprey aircraft after fatal crash
Japan has asked the U.S. military to ground its V-22 Osprey aircraft after one crashed into the sea on Wednesday in western Japan, killing at least one person onboard, its defence minister said.
The U.S. Air Force, which was operating the hybrid aircraft, says the cause of the mishap is currently unknown.
"The occurrence of such an accident causes great anxiety to the people of the region... and we are requesting the U.S. side to conduct flights of Ospreys deployed in Japan after these flights are confirmed to be safe," Minoru Kihara said in parliament on Thursday.
Japan's Ground Self-Defence Force, which also operates Ospreys, will suspend flights of the aircraft until the circumstances of the incident are clarified, another senior defence ministry official said in parliament.
A spokesperson for the U.S. military forces in Japan declined to immediately comment on the grounding request.
Witnesses said the aircraft's left engine appeared to be on fire as it approached an airport for an emergency landing in clear weather and light winds, media reported.