A United States military Osprey aircraft crashed off the Japanese coast, carrying eight airmen with it. On Nov. 29, the remains of seven of the crew remain unknown, but the military has declared the remaining airmen in “DUSTWUN” status, or “duty status — whereabouts unknown.”
The downed crew belonged to the U.S. Air Force’s 353rd Special Operations Wing at Yokota Air Base near Tokyo. The attachment, 21st Special Operations Squadrons, flies the Osprey to support disaster-response missions around the Pacific.
Osprey aircraft can perform short vertical takeoffs and landings and have quick landing capabilities, designed to combine traditional helicopters' functionality and large aircraft's high speed turbo blast.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno states, “We are concerned about the continuing Osprey flights despite our repeated requests and the absence of a sufficient explanation about their safety” from the U.S. military.
Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh says she was unaware of Japan's formal request to down the aircraft, but Matsuno acknowledges he never used the words ‘grounded’ or ‘suspended’.
Four fatal Osprey crashes, including Wednesday’s, have claimed the lives of 13 American troops over the past two years. As a result of the accident, the squadron has halted operations. Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh confirmed this in a statement Friday.
One resident states they saw the Osprey upside down and on fire before it blew up. Governor of Okinawa Prefecture Dan Tamaki expressed worry and regret that Ospreys are still in flight, while worrying about the safety of those still in flight as part of the search and rescue teams.
The remains of one solider, Staff Sergeant Jacob Galliher have been identified, as the search continues as U.S. military focus on flight rescue and air, while Japanese coast guard and military ships work on sea and undersea search.