Japanese and US military divers make major discovery in search for Osprey aircraft that crashed off Japan

U.S. and Japanese military divers recovered what could be the remains of crew members and wreckage from the U.S. Air Force Osprey aircraft that crashed near Japan last week, the Air Force announced Monday.

The CV-22 Osprey was carrying eight American service members when it crashed off Yakushima Island during a training mission last Wednesday. So far, one body has been recovered and identified, while the others remain missing.

The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) also confirmed the discovery.

“During a combined U.S.-Japanese search and rescue dive in the vicinity of Yakushima, Japan on Dec. 4, 2023, remains were discovered along with wreckage from the CV-22 mishap that occurred on Nov. 29, 2023. Currently there is a combined effort in recovering the remains,” the AFSOC said Monday.

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Japanese Coast Guard members carry the debris believed to be from the crashed U.S. military Osprey aircraft at a port in Yakushima, Kagoshima prefecture, southern Japan, on Monday.  (Kyodo News via AP)

The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) said the identities of the remains have yet to be determined.

“The main priority is bringing the Airmen home and taking care of their family members. Support to, and the privacy of, the families and loved ones impacted by this incident remains AFSOC’s top priority,” AFSOC said in a statement.

On Monday, divers from the Japanese navy and U.S. military spotted what appeared to be the front section of the Osprey, along with possibly five of the missing crew members, Japan’s NHK public television and other media reported.

A photo of an Osprey

Japanese and American military divers have spotted what could be the remains of a U.S. Air Force Osprey aircraft that crashed last week off southwestern Japan, local media reported Monday. (Kyodo News via AP)

Members of the Japanese Coast Guard were seen hoisting debris and pieces of the crashed military Osprey aircraft at a port in Yakushima, Kagoshima in southern Japan.

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Japanese navy officials declined to confirm these reports, however, saying they did not wish to do so without U.S. consent.

The Osprey is a U.S.-made tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter but can rotate its propellers forward like an airplane during flight.

Yoshihide Yoshida speaking at podium

Chief of the Joint Staff of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, Yoshihide Yoshida, addresses the CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft that crashed into the sea on Wednesday. (David Mareuil/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The aircraft has a history of crashes and the crash last week rekindled safety concerns. Japan subsequently suspended all flights of its own fleet of 14 Ospreys until an investigation to determine the cause of Wednesday’s crash is complete.

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On Saturday, U.S. military officials identified the sole confirmed victim as Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob Galliher of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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