Japanese military helicopter goes down at sea, 10 missing

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

A UH-60JA in 2014.
Image: Rikujojieitai Boueisho.

A Japanese military helicopter went down off the coast of Miyako Island in the East China Sea Thursday. All 10 aboard were reported missing.

The helicopter was a UH-60JA variant of the Black Hawk belonging to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF); Japanese radar lost it between Miyako Island and Irabu Island, 10 minutes after it flew off from Miyako Island.

Early Friday morning, the Japan Coast Guard found a door, a rotor blade, and an unused lifeboat labeled consistently with the missing helicopter while conducting a search.

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said: "We will do our utmost for the rescue of the 10 people who are still missing, while continuing to gather information related to the extent of damage."

Aboard the helicopter were two pilots, two mechanics, and six passengers; one passenger was Lieutenant General Yuichi Sakamoto, a senior JGSDF commander who supervised the 8th Division.

The JGSDF said the helicopter passed a safety inspection in March.