U.S. to suspend flights of CH-53 helicopters

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The U.S. military will suspend flights of CH-53 large transport helicopters in Japan, following the previous day’s crash of one such aircraft in the village of Higashi in Okinawa Prefecture, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Thursday.

At a meeting in Tokyo, Maj. Gen. Charles Chiarotti, deputy commander of U.S. forces in Japan, agreed to suspend the flights until the forces’ initial probe determines the cause of the crash and confirms the safety of the helicopter, the defense minister told reporters.

The Defense Ministry will dispatch four Self-Defense Forces members who have CH-53 operational and maintenance experience to gather information.

“It’s so regrettable that [the accident] caused great concern to the people in Okinawa,” Onodera said at the outset of the meeting, which was opened to the news media.

Chiarotti noted that the United States understands the concerns and worries of the locals and will come up with measures to prevent a recurrence of the accident.Speech

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