CH-53 helicopter - Press Photo
TOKYO - 12 October 2017: The US forces in Japan will ground all CH-53E helicopters to confirm their safety after the same type of aircraft crash-landed near a USmilitary training area in Okinawa on Wednesday, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said.
The minister said that Maj. Gen. Charles Chiarotti, deputy commander of US Forces Japan, told him of the decision during their talks in Tokyo on Thursday. An official of the Defense Ministry's local bureau, meanwhile, said the accident site was found to have been about 300 meters away from residential houses, Kyodo News reported.
The Japanese and US governments apparently decided to act quickly to address local concerns in a bid to minimize any repercussions from the incident with a general election in Japan slated for Oct. 22.
In Wednesday's accident, the helicopter caught fire in midair during a training flight and burst into flames as it made an emergency landing near the US Northern Training Area on the main island of Okinawa. None of its seven crew members or local residents was hurt.