On Oct. 11, 2017 a U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) CH-53 helicopter from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 (HMH-462) made an emergency landing in an empty field near Higashi village, Okinawa, after having experienced an in-flight engine fire.
According to The Japan Times no injuries were reported among the seven crewmembers aboard the helicopter.
In the following YouTube video taken on the crash site you can see another CH-53 attempting to put out the fire using a helibucket.
Japanese authorities asked the U.S. military to provide a full report and take steps to prevent similar accidents.
To quickly address these concerns the USMC in Japan announced a four-day operational halt for the CH-53 transport helicopters stationed in Okinawa.
As reported by Kyodo News the accident site was found to have been about 300 meters away from residential houses.
“Accidents by the U.S. Marine Corps are continuing. We want to communicate to the U.S. side that we demand safe operations,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters.
In December, five crew members aboard a USMC MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor were injured in what the Pentagon described as a “mishap” resulting in the plane landing in shallow water off Okinawa.
After that incident Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said it was “very regrettable” that a “serious accident” had occurred and stressed that being able to operate safely was a “prerequisite” for the aircraft to be based in Japan.
A series of accidents in other countries involving the hybrid aircraft prompted protests by residents in Okinawa after its deployment there.
In August, U.S. Marines were forced to mount a major search and rescue mission after an MV-22 Osprey crashed of the east coast of Australia.
They were able to rescue 23 out of the 26 personnel on board the aircraft.
More recently another USMC MV-22 crashed on a coalition base in Syria. Two U.S. service members were injured during the incident.
noteworthy more than half the approximately 47,000 American troops in Japan under a decades-long security alliance are stationed on Okinawa, the site of a major World War II battle that was followed by a 27-year U.S. occupation of the island.
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