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1 dead, 7 missing after 2 MSDF helicopters crash in Pacific during night training

39 Comments
By Mari Yamaguchi

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39 Comments
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When running such late night training . . . perhaps best to have a backup vehicle near by?

-8 ( +11 / -19 )

Again? So once every year?

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japan-finds-crashed-military-helicopter-recovers-five-bodies-kyodo-2023-04-16/

-20 ( +7 / -27 )

Lost two choppers at the same time. There must be something fundamentally wrong with US designed aircraft.

-36 ( +7 / -43 )

Hope for the best.

22 ( +22 / -0 )

MeiyouwentiToday 07:59 am JST

Lost two choppers at the same time. There must be something fundamentally wrong with US designed aircraft.

Oh so now it is even the US design. Nice stretch.

17 ( +25 / -8 )

I hope they will be found soon.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Shocking news to wake up to. May all 8 crew members be found safe ASAP.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

MeiyouwentiToday 07:59 am JST

Lost two choppers at the same time. There must be something fundamentally wrong with US designed aircraft.

hmmmmm, 2 of the same aircraft go down at the same time at the same location......, hmmmmm....., yes must be the aircraft design flaw! What are the odds......hmmmm? How about pilot error?

18 ( +22 / -4 )

Sad. let us Hope they at least find and rescue the crew.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Today 07:59 am JST

Lost two choppers at the same time. There must be something fundamentally wrong with US designed aircraft

Today 08:35 am JST

good advice-return all of faulty overpriced and unreliable US made aircraft to seller and ask for refund.

dont fly with rubbish

Absolute ignorance and likely bigotry on display here.

Flying at night over open water at likely low elevation is a dangerous and difficult task.

Also both choppers did not go down at the same time. Read the article. The second one went down 25 minutes after the first, indicating they may have been searching for the first one after losing contact.

The article says there were no weather advisories issued for the area at the time, but as anyone who has ever been to sea knows, the weather can change dramatically very quickly.

Finally, since the two America haters above are more concerned with unsubstantiated claims of bad equipment, I'd like to offer my prayers for the safe return of all 8 crew members.

22 ( +27 / -5 )

Military helicopters are prone to crashes, not just in Japan but in general. The nature of the missions requires them to fly at low altitudes, and their engines are much less powerful than jets. If they make a mistake or have bad luck, they have little chance of recovering.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

MeiyouwentiToday  07:59 am JST

Lost two choppers at the same time. There must be something fundamentally wrong with US designed aircraft.

Or maybe there is something fundamentally wrong with Mitsubuishi Heavy Industries who manufactured them.

JMSDF has over 80 SK-60 variants in operation since 1991.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Lost two choppers at the same time. There must be something fundamentally wrong with US designed aircraft.

Anyone else designing vert lift aircraft with better safety records? I'll wait. (Grabs popcorn)

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Lost two choppers at the same time. There must be something fundamentally wrong with US designed aircraft.

Sigh. These are anti submarine helicopters with dipping sonar. It is normal to prosecute a submarine contact with two helicopters. One can have the sonar in the water listening, getting a bearing to the sub while the other helo runs down that bearing and drops sonobuoys in the water along that bearing trying to refine their datum. This keeps up tag teaming the sub until they are close enough to use the sonar in an active mode. On active mode the sonar operater has bearing and range. The other helo will fly over where the helo with the sonar in the water says it is, confirm the sub's presence with its MAD (Magnetic Anomaly Detector) gear and if MAD confirms the sub is below, drop torpedos, or if it's an exercise simulate the drop. But it takes two helos to prosecute a sub successfully and from experience the JMSDF helicopter crews are among the best in the world at ASW.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

For those of you who have never done this, putting your sonar in the water at night requires use of an auto hover feature. The pilot flies at 150 feet above the water as indicated on a radar altimeter, 60 knots (varies by aircraft type but 60 knots is typical), punches a button on the console and lets the helicopter fly itself into a stable hover 40 feet (12-13 meters) above the water. There are three doppler radars on the belly of the helicopter that sense motion relative to the sea surface that tell the autopilot what to do to keep the helo over one spot. The pilot has an instrument in the cockpit to help them reference where the helicopter is drifting and can manually correct a drift, over riding the auto pilot. Granted the stuff I flew as much older but George, our name for that auto pilot has tried to kill me a few times. On the few occasions George tried I was lucky it was daylight and nice weather. If it had been dark and rainy we'd have probably gone swimming. Sitting there in a nice 40 foot hover when suddenly the collective slams to the deck! Recovered at about 10 feet off the water. Like I said, I was lucky.

You also have two helicopters maneuvering in the dark trying to get over a sub and sink it. It's dark, you often cannot see the sea surface and your playmate might be in a blind spot. Situational awareness is critical and in the rush to chase down a sub sometimes people get excited.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Some information on the SH 60K helicopter.

https://www.mhi.co.jp/technology/review/pdf/e425/e425208.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikorsky_SH-60_Seahawk

2 ( +3 / -1 )

At first read you would think perhaps the 2 of them collided with each other but then the story says they lost contact 25 minutes apart. Very odd.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

RESCUERS were still searching for the other seven bodies. What is the Japanese obsession with the word "officials"?!

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Dessert tortoise, that's a good explanation, one of my first thoughts was they clipped each other, but as I read the article, I am wondering if it could have been a bird strike where migrating birds got sucked into the engines, either way I hope the crew got out and get picked up safely

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Mike_OxlongToday  11:25 am JST

RESCUERS were still searching for the other seven bodies. What is the Japanese obsession with the word "officials"?!

With all the information the article gives concerning 1 dead 7 missing chopper crew, that is what bothers you?

"Officials" is often used to mean "Authorities" in translationed articles. It's not a "Japanese obsession" it's a translation practice.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

2 choppers disappear and one distress call heard but officials keep for themselves what happened...

Some failure anyway whether mechanical, human or worse attacked and lost their battle.

At that rate of casualties during peace time and minimal size of army compare to many countries, attrition is too high to be bearable in the near future.

@deserttortoise

Always nice to get some deep knowledge, thank you. I wonder your thoughts about the cause of the two crashes. It can't remain a mystery.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Maybe they did detect a sub, which retaliated with an electromagnetic noise weapon to interfere with the altitude sonar causing one or both helo to crash. Hope they get the black boxes.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Terrible news. Praying for those not found yet.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Clearly a midair collision at night. The 25 minutes mentioned earlier is no longer a factor.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

JT’s comment section has its detractors but insights from posters like DT above proves the value of an open forum. It would take Kyodo, AP or Reuters days to get that level of relevant, detailed information.

Thanks as always DT.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Unlike the Osprey, there has been no advice to stop its operations, probably because China does not see this helicopter as a threat.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

good advice-return all of faulty overpriced and unreliable US made aircraft to seller and ask for refund.

If you actually read the article you’d have know the two that crashed were manufactured and modified in Japan

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Always nice to get some deep knowledge, thank you. I wonder your thoughts about the cause of the two crashes. It can't remain a mystery.

So losing contact might not mean the helo crashed. We know the first helo declared an emergency and subsequently there was loss of contact but I would have to know more to know what that means. I have lost my radios in flight but was able to resolve that problem and re-establish radio contact with flight controllers. I would have to know the nature of the emergency and why there was a loss of contact. It might be the second helo was flying alongside the first during its emergency trying to guide it back to its ship or a land base. The first helo had to ditch and the second was lost trying to rescue the crew of the first? Maybe the first helo was having a control problem and flew into the second, causing both to crash? Just guessing. Need more information to know for sure.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Unlike the Osprey, there has been no advice to stop its operations, probably because China does not see this helicopter as a threat.

PLAN subs sure see them as a threat. Dipping sonar ASW helos are their most dangerous adversary and Japan's SH-60Ks are among the best of that breed.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I pray this ends better than current information indicates.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I pray this ends better than current information indicates.

If there were no survivors found immediately after the crash there won't be survivors. If you can't extricate yourself from the sinking helicopter in a matter of seconds you aren't going to survive. Take from someone who has taken many a blindfold goggled ride in the "helo dunker".

3 ( +4 / -1 )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnXpya7YSPw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMhEr3INbMA

We used to ride the helo dunker pretty regularly. One year the Air Force decided to send their Pave Low HH-53 crews through the training. For us Navy types it was a day off at the pool, but you should have seen the blood drain from the faces of the Air Force pilots when they saw that thing roll over and were told they would have to get out with blacked out Speedo goggles over their eyes. Good times.

But seriously, you watch this and you can see what crews face ditching a maybe breaking up helo in the water in the dark. Good luck maintaining orientation, finding an exit and then finding the surface.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Osprey again...like boeing, something is wrong with US designer.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Osprey again...like boeing, something is wrong with US designer.

SH-60K is a largely Japanese design. Compared to the US model the fuselage is longer and taller. The rotor blades are a Japanese design as is the main rotor gearbox, uprated to handle more power. The engines too are more powerful. The sonar and electronics are Japanese as well. Not much of the SH-60K is shared with the US Navy's MH-60R other than their mission and both are used off destroyers.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It's more an educational issue and I am sure most of the kindergarten and school students have still the simple knowledge at hand which we adults often forget or intentionally ignore. So let's repeat here only the very basics. We are human beings and land mammals. We are no birds in the air and we are no fish in the water and even more we are also not a combination of both, flying over sea. And although we potentially can challenge all those limitations, we will then have to pay a very high and deadly price for the violations. Ask your biology teacher for more details.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@Desert Tortoise

The Osprey is an extremely capable helicopter, so if an accident occurs, the Japanese media will immediately make a fuss about how dangerous it is. Of course, China's influence is behind this.

Even on this site, the article about the Osprey crash received many comments, all of which emphasized the dangers of the Osprey. That's ironic lol

Since it is not a helicopter that can be used to transport troops, it seems that the comments are not all negative.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Desert Tortoise

We did the helo dunker in the Corps as well. No flex, but it wasn’t a walk in the park for us, because we were fully geared, armed with a rubber rifle, and wearing flaks.

But I do respect the swimming proficiency of Navy aviators

1 ( +1 / -0 )

diobrandoApr. 22  08:55 am JST

Osprey again...like boeing, something is wrong with US designer.

First off, not Osprey.

Secondly, please enlighten us with non us designed vert aircrafts with better safety records. I'm still waiting for someone to answer this inquiry.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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