Japan is searching for missing crew after two Mitsubishi SH-60K helicopters were lost druing a night-time anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) rotorcraft were carrying eight personnel when they collided near the Izu Islands, located to the southeast of Japan in in the Pacific Ocean, according to Japan’s Ministry of Defense.

In a briefing, defence minister Minoru Kihara said that a deceased crewmember has been recovered. The location of the other seven crew has yet to be ascertained, with coast guard and JMSDF assets conducting a search in the area. 

Japan SH-60K

Source: Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force

An SH-60K similar to the two crashed aircraft

Communication was lost with one aircraft at 22:38 local time on 20 April, and an emergency signal was received at 22:39.

Kihara indicates that the helicopters’ “flight recorders” were recovered in close proximity, suggesting that the two helicopters may have collided.

“Since they are located in very close proximity, we have determined that there is a high possibility that there was a collision,” says Kihara.

The recorders have been sent to Japan’s Atsugi air base for analysis. Part of a helicopter body as well as rotor blades have been recovered.

In addition to the two crashed helicopters, both of which were operating from Japanese warships, a third helicopter was involved in the training work.