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Japanese Navy Mitsubishi SH-60K helicopters collide during a training exercise

Two Japanese Navy helicopters, each carrying four crew members, met a devastating fate during a night training flight in the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo. The tragic incident occurred late Saturday near Torishima Island and prompted a widespread search and rescue effort by Japanese forces.

According to Defense Minister Minoru Kihara, the cause of the crash is still under investigation, but initial assessments indicate a collision between the two Mitsubishi SH-60K helicopters of the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF). The collision theory gains weight with the recovery of flight data recorders, helicopter blades and fragments believed to have come from both aircraft in the same environment.

Tragically, only one crew member was recovered from the water, while the rest are still missing. The suspension of training flights for all SH-60s has been announced by the Ministry of Defense, pending further investigation and taking preventive measures.

The search and rescue operation has intensified, with the MSDF, the Air Self-Defense Force, the Japanese Coast Guard and even the offer of assistance from the United States. Ambassador Rahm Emanuel expressed his solidarity and condolences to the families and friends of the missing crew.

The helicopters involved in the crash, known as Seahawks, are twin-engine multi-mission aircraft developed by Sikorsky and produced in Japan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. They were involved in night anti-submarine training, a crucial aspect of Japan’s defense strategy, especially in light of heightened regional tensions.

This message was published on April 21, 2024 09:36