The eight airmen who were aboard an Air Force CV-22B Osprey that crashed off the shore of Yakushima Island, Japan, on Wednesday are still missing, deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh said Thursday.
“I don’t have an update for you on recovery efforts just yet. Again, we know that there are eight missing. The search and recovery efforts are ongoing,” Singh said.
A spokesperson for the Japanese Coast Guard said Wednesday that at least one person had been recovered and pronounced dead, though Singh declined to confirm those reports. A US military official told CNN on Wednesday that the military was working through notifying the service members’ families.
The CV-22B – which is the special operations variant of the Osprey aircraft – was assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Wing and conducting a “routine training mission” at the time of the crash, Air Force Special Operations Command said on Wednesday.
The Osprey has a history of mechanical and operational issues, and has been involved in several fatal incidents over the last 30 years. And while Japanese officials have said they have requested the US suspend operations of V-22 Osprey aircraft in Japan, Singh said Ospreys are “still operating in Japan” and she was not aware of an official request having been received by the Pentagon.
She added that additional steps could be taken to ensure the safety of the Osprey if the investigation into what happened on Wednesday recommends it.
“[T]here’s a true commitment to safety when it comes to any of our airmen operating any aircraft,” Singh said. “Again, I’m not going to get ahead of the investigation, it’s currently under investigation to see exactly what happened … if the investigation concludes that there need to be additional steps taken, we’ll certainly do that.”
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