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One Dead, Seven Missing After Two Japanese Navy SH-60 Helicopters Crash

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Two Japanese Navy SH-60 Helicopters Crash
Japanese Navy Recovers MH-60S that crashed into the sea: Image US Navy

Two Japanese navy SH-60 patrol helicopters crashed into the sea during a training exercise, killing at least one of the eight crew members, the defense minister said Sunday. The helicopters were conducting anti-submarine maneuvers at the remote Izu island group off central Japan’s southern coast.

The SH-60 is a patrol helicopter developed to replace the present SH-60J anti-submarine helicopter. The SH-60K destroyer performs several roles, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, surveillance, transport, and rescue, in collaboration with the warship.

Defense Minister Minoru Kihara stated at a press conference that the cause of the crash is under investigation. The two flight recorders were located near together, and it was likely that the two helicopters collided, told Reuters.

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) and Coast Guard are looking for the remaining seven crew members. Earlier on Saturday, MSDF Chief of Staff Yoshitaka Sakai said he didn’t believe another country was involved in the disaster.

In a post on X, US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel offered his country’s support in search and rescue efforts.

US, Japan and South Korea War Games

A US carrier strike group commanded by the USS Theodore Roosevelt conducted a two-day joint exercise with its allies Japan and South Korea, while US President Joe Biden met with officials from Japan and the Philippines at the White House.

The military and diplomatic moves aim to enhance the allies’ cohesion in the face of what they perceive to be China’s aggressive military actions in the region. Several guided missile destroyers from the United States and South Korea, as well as a Japanese warship, took part in the drills in the disputed East China Sea, where concerns over China’s territorial claims are growing.

Rear Adm. Christopher Alexander, commander of Carrier Strike Group Nine told AP, the three nations engaged in undersea warfare exercises, maritime interdiction operations, search and rescue drills, and communication and data sharing activities.

Tensions between China and the Philippines have grown following recurrent incidents between their coast guard vessels in the disputed South China Sea. Chinese coast guard ships frequently approach the disputed Japanese-controlled East China Sea islands near Taiwan. Beijing has defended its actions in the South China Sea, accusing the United States of inciting tensions.

This week, Chinese President Xi Jinping had talks with senior officials from Vietnam, Russia, and Taiwan. The naval exercises between the United States, Japan, and South Korea come after four-way maneuvers in the South China Sea, where Japan joined the United States, Australia, and the Philippines.

Participants avoided naming China, instead stating that the exercises were being held to ensure a peaceful and stable Indo-Pacific. A Chinese Defense Ministry official said Friday that China’s actions in the South China Sea are “justified, lawful, and above reproach,” accusing the United States of flexing its muscles in the region and forming anti-China cliques.

“These acts are irresponsible and extremely dangerous,” senior colonel Wu Qian warned in an online statement. The South China water, an area of long-standing tensions, is an important water route for world trade. Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Taiwan have all expressed concern.


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