Parts of US Marine helicopter weighing 200 kilograms falls near Tonaki

Parts of US Marine helicopter weighing 200 kilograms falls near Tonaki

Similar type parts and simulated bullet that an AH-1 helicopter belonging to the Futenma base fell. (Photograph provided RIMPEACE, a citizen group that monitors the movement of U.S. forces in Japan.)

January 17, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

At around 17:30 p.m. on January 15, parts of a U.S. Marine AH- attack helicopter belonging to the Futenma base fell during flight in training airspace near Irisuna Island, Tonaki. The parts weighed more than about 200 kilograms, including hellfire missile launcher (about 109 kilograms), missile pot (about 65 kilograms) and empty fuel tank (about 34 kilograms). According to the Okinawa Defense Bureau, any human and material damage has not been confirmed, and explosives were not among the fallen objects, as of January 16. The Okinawa Prefectural Government Office and Okinawa Defense Bureau asked the U.S. side to investigate the cause of the accident and to prevent recurrence.

U.S. Marine Corps notified the defense bureau in the afternoon on January 16, and the prefecture, Ginowan City and Tonoki Village office received the information from the defense bureau at 2 p.m. According to the U.S. Marine Corps, the parts fell into the sea from the helicopter when it was flying in training airspace after departing from the Futenma base on January 15.

In March last year, there was an incident where the skid of an AH-1 helicopter belonging to the Futenma base collapsed in its landing on the deck of U.S.S. Denver off the coast of Okinawa’s main island. In addition to this accident, a metal ring bolt 7.6 cm in diameter and 5.1 cm long fell from an AH-1 helicopter during training in September. Accidents involving the helicopters have taken place one after another.

Susumu Matayoshi, the head of the Executive Office of the Governor, criticized the U.S. military, saying, “Numerous accidents involving U.S. military have taken place so far. This is more serious because parts of its anti-tank guided and anti-ground missile have fallen from the helicopter. We cannot help but raise doubts over whether or not the U.S. military has carried out measures to prevent the accidents. This can lead to serious accidents.”

The Okinawa Prefectural Government called for a full investigation into the cause of the accident, a public announcement of the results of the investigation and specific measures to prevent recurrence by the U.S. military. The defense bureau made a proposal for safety management to prevent accidents and an investigation into the accident to the U.S. military.

(English translation by T&CT)

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