TOKYO (Kyodo) — A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft made a water crash-landing off Okinawa Prefecture on Tuesday night in the first major accident involving the tilt-rotor transport aircraft in Japan.
The five crew members aboard ejected from the aircraft and were rescued by the U.S. military, the Defense Ministry said. They were transported to a U.S. naval hospital to receive treatment for injuries, the U.S. Marine Corps said on Twitter.
The accident of the aircraft, seen by many in Okinawa as accident-prone, came at a time when a showdown between the central and prefectural governments are deepening on the plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within the southernmost island prefecture.
The Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft made a watercrash-landing off the eastern coast of the city of Uruma in the island prefecture at around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The Defense Ministry is checking the details with the U.S. military about the incident. The Japan Coast Guard is also trying to grasp the situation around the waters with two of its patrol ships and a helicopter.
The aircraft, belonging to the Futenma base in the city of Ginowan, also in central Okinawa and south of Uruma, is believed to be undergoing training at the time of the incident. Osprey aircraft, which take off and land like a helicopter but cruise like a plane, have been a matter of concern in Japan for some time. The U.S. military has deployed dozens of the aircraft to the Marine’s Air Station Futenma in a densely populated area in the prefecture.
Okinawa, a host to the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, seeks to relocate the base outside the prefecture.