Tokyo, Jan. 24 (Jiji Press) — Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Wednesday his ministry has asked U.S. forces in Japan to ground AH-1 attack helicopters following an emergency landing by one of them in Okinawa Prefecture, southern Japan.
The ministry asked for emergency checks on all AH-1 helicopters and the suspension of their flights until the checks are completed, Onodera said.
The request was made to Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, commander of U.S. forces in Japan, Onodera said.
The minister’s comments came after an AH-1 helicopter deployed at the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air station in the Okinawa city of Ginowan made an emergency landing on the island of Tonaki Tuesday.
The emergency landing was the third incident in Okinawa this year involving a U.S. military helicopter. In December last year, U.S. military helicopter parts fell onto the ground of an elementary school located next to the Futenma base.