Japan seeks to ground Osprey in wake of deadly Australia crash

he Japanese government has urged the U.S. military to ground all MV-22 Ospreys in Japan after one of the controversial tilt-rotor aircraft crashed off Australia’s eastern coast Saturday, presumably killing three Marines.

“I have requested that they refrain from all flight operations by MV-22 Ospreys in Japan,” newly appointed Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Sunday.

Onodera – who took over last week for embattled former defense minister Tomomi Inada in the wake of a data cover-up scandal – also called on the Marines to provide information on the crash, to investigate its cause and to take preventative measures, a ministry spokeswoman said Monday.

As of Monday afternoon in Japan, Marine officials had not responded to Onodera’s request or to requests for comment from Stars and Stripes.

The helicopter-plane hybrid from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 crashed into the sea at around 4 p.m. Saturday after taking off from the USS Bonhomme Richard for regularly scheduled operations, Marine officials said in a series of statements over the weekend.

The aircraft – carrying 26 Marines at the time – was approaching the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay when it smashed into its deck and slid into the ocean, according to the Courier-Mail, a newspaper based in Brisbane, Australia.

All but three of the Marines were rescued after the Bonhomme Richard and Green Bay launched small boats and aircraft, the statements and media reports said.

After a shaky development history that included several deadly high-profile crashes, the Osprey became a symbol of the anti-base resistance on Okinawa in 2012 when it arrived on the island to replace the Marines’ aging fleet of Sea Knight helicopters. The aircraft has since been the focal point of near daily protests, and expelling it from the island was a major campaign promise of Gov. Takeshi Onaga’s during the 2014 election.

US Marines consider grounding Osprey fleet after deadly Australia crash

The US Marine Corps may ground its entire air fleet for a safety review following the crash of an Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft in Australia that killed three Marines, a defense official said Monday.

The Japan-based Marine MV-22 Osprey crashed Saturday during an exercise off the Australian coast, leaving three service members missing and presumed dead.

"We are looking at our options in terms of reviewing safety across the Marine Corps fleet at the moment ... pending an across-the-board safety review," a US defense official told AFP, noting that the grounding could affect all flying squads in the service.

US officials are also weighing a request by Japan's new defense minister, who told the US military on Monday of his "many concerns" after it flew an Osprey in Japan following the crash.

Itsunori Onodera, appointed Thursday as Japan's defense minister, asked the US to temporarily stop flying the aircraft in his country following the accident.

According to the US official, the Osprey crashed after clipping the back of the USS Green Bay while trying to land on the amphibious transport ship. The Okinawa-based aircraft which crashed was in Australia as part of a joint military exercise called Talisman Sabre, which has just ended in Queensland state.

Stealth party to mark 50 years of Pine Gap

K. This is top secret. Pine Gap is turning 50 and will be celebrating the occasion with a stealth party.

As of course they would.

When? According to Donald Trump’s contacts in Moscow it will be this weekend.

It will be big.

There will be a dinner on Saturday at the Convention Centre and there will be something at the spy base – best guess it will be just outside the gates.

The local A-list of movers and shakers have been invited the the dinner which – according to our sources, well informed as they are, will include Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Local VIPs will include Minister Dale Wakefield and Councillor Jamie de Brenni.

Not that the Convention Centre will let anything slip: “Unfortunately the details of this weekend’s event are not available for public release,” is what we were told.

According to the Australian head of the base (she introduced herself as Barbara) there will be no media passes.

Chansey Paech, the Member of Parliament in which Pine Gap operates, did not score an invitation.

US Warship Stayed on Collision Course despite Warning

A U.S. warship struck by a container vessel in Japanese waters failed to respond to warning signals or take evasive action before a collision that killed seven of its crew, according to a report of the incident by the Philippine cargo ship's captain.

Multiple U.S. and Japanese investigations are under way into how the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald and the much larger ACX Crystal container ship collided in clear weather south of Tokyo Bay in the early hours of June 17.

In the first detailed account from one of those directly involved, the cargo ship's captain said the ACX Crystal had signaled with flashing lights after the Fitzgerald "suddenly" steamed on to a course to cross its path.

The container ship steered hard to starboard (right) to avoid the warship, but hit the Fitzgerald 10 minutes later at 1:30 a.m., according to a copy of Captain Ronald Advincula's report to Japanese ship owner Dainichi Investment Corporation that was seen by Reuters.

The collision tore a gash below the Fitzgerald's waterline, killing seven sailors in what was the greatest loss of life on a U.S. Navy vessel since the USS Cole was bombed in Yemen's Aden harbor in 2000.

Those who died were in their berthing compartments, while the Fitzgerald's commander was injured in his cabin, suggesting that no alarm warning of an imminent collision was sounded.

A spokesman for the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet in Yokosuka, the Fitzgerald's home port, said he was unable to comment on an ongoing investigation.

US, Australia Commence Massive Joint Talisman Saber Naval Exercise

On Thursday, the USS Bonhomme Richard made its way toward Sydney as Australian and US forces commenced their Talisman Saber exercise, the seventh of the large biennial training drills.

According to a Navy statement, more than 33,000 service members from the US and Australia will participate in "high-end warfighting scenarios” designed to “innovatively prepare for regional and global security challenges."

The statement adds that Talisman Saber, jointly sponsored by the US Pacific Command and the Australian Defence Force Headquarters Joint Operations Command, will be mostly sea and land based. It will take place in and around Australia and include “live and virtual training exercises” and amphibious landings.

More than 200 aircraft will be participating, including advanced F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters and tilt-rotor Ospreys, along with 21 ships including the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group and the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.

"Exercises like Talisman Saber are precisely where we really learn how to take advantage of cutting-edge technology to outpace our adversaries," Adm. Harry Harris, head of US Pacific Command, said in a US Navy statement saying.

During the exercise’s opening ceremony, Harris said he challenged all branches of the US armed forces to "find new ways to enable our joint and multinational combined forces to be faster, more precise, more cost-effective and most importantly, more lethal."

Speaking of Talisman Saber’s symbolic value, Harris told reporters, "I’m pleased about that message it sends to our friends, allies, partners and potential adversaries … I think this demonstrates the importance of alliances in general and the value of this alliance in particular." On Wednesday, the commander made his third trip to Australia in roughly half a year, telling an audience at Brisbane’s Australian Strategic Policy Institute that Washington takes its relationship with Australia seriously, and that the alliance between the two countries could help stop the spread of jihadist extremist groups. Australia is a global leader in the fight against Daesh, he pointed out.