TOKYO, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Search continued Wednesday for four crew members who went missing following an Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) helicopter crashing off Hamamatsu, central Japan, a day earlier.
The searches, carried out by Japan's Air and Maritime Self-Defense Forces, turned up three helmets, according to local media reports.
The UH-60J helicopter, belonging to the ASDF's Hamamatsu base, disappeared from radar about 10 minutes after taking off and is believed to have gone down in the ocean some 30 km south of the base at around 6:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday, ASDF officials said.
Parts of the chopper were found floating on the sea in the area believed to be where the chopper went down, Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
The debris, including a door with the ASDF insignia on it, tires and a part of the tail rotor, has been retrieved from the ocean, local media reported.
The chopper was conducting a nighttime search-and-rescue drill when contact was lost on Tuesday evening, Onodera said.
The helicopter, the primary contractor of which is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), had passed a safety inspection in August, the ASDF said. It was first deployed in 2015.
According to MHI, the ASDF's UH-60J is a rescue helicopter based on the U.S. Army multi-purpose helicopter, the UH-60A, known more commonly as the "Black Hawk."
The chopper is equipped with infrared night vision, and weather radar navigation systems, which are purportedly for better mobility, according to MHI.