Defense

July 24, 2012

U.S. Osprey aircraft arrive in Japan amid protests

Tags:
by Eric Talmadge
Associated Press

A Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 Marine watches as an MV-22 Osprey rotates its wings into position during a series of routine checks on the flight line at the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, July 23, 2012. This marks the first MV-22 Osprey aircraft deployment to Japan and a milestone in the Marine Corps’ process of replacing CH-46E helicopters with the MV-22 Osprey, a highly-capable, tilt-rotor aircraft which combines the vertical capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft.

A shipload of the U.S. military’s latest transport aircraft arrived in Japan July 23 amid protests over safety issues that have aggravated longstanding grassroots concern over the presence of American bases in the country.

Workers began unloading and assembling the 12 MV-22 Osprey aircraft in the city of Iwakuni soon after the ship arrived. The U.S. plans to deploy the tilt-rotor aircraft to Okinawa to replace older CH-46 helicopters that are already there.

The Osprey deployment plan has become the latest rallying point for base opponents and a serious headache for officials in Tokyo and Washington hoping to calm anti-base sentiment.

Although the Ospreys will only be in Iwakuni briefly, opposition there has been unusually strong, with both the mayor and the governor saying they do not support even temporarily hosting the aircraft. Opposition to the large military presence on Okinawa is deep-rooted, and protesters July 23 held a sit-in outside the base where the Ospreys are to be sent.

Residents and local leaders in Iwakuni and on Okinawa have demanded the plan be scrapped because they say the planes are not safe. Such concerns boiled over after Osprey crashes in Morocco in April and in Florida last month.

Hundreds of protesters turned out to demonstrate against the arrival, some of them from aboard small boats.

The planes have been used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the United States says they have a solid record. The Osprey can fly like an airplane and has tilting rotors that allow it to take off and land like a helicopter. It can fly much faster and carry bigger loads than the CH-46, which it is replacing worldwide.

“Deployment of these aircraft in Japan is a vital component in fulfilling the United States’ commitment to provide for the defense of Japan and to help maintain peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region,” the U.S. Embassy said in a statement July 23.

The United States has about 19,000 Marines on Okinawa, which also hosts a large U.S. air base. More than half of the roughly 50,000 U.S. troops stationed throughout Japan are based on Okinawa.

To ease tensions, Tokyo and Washington recently agreed to move about 9,000 Marines off Okinawa, but that has been widely criticized on Okinawa because a firm date for the move has not been set.

Okinawans are also angry that the Ospreys will be deployed to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which the two countries decided to close more than a decade ago. The base has remained in operation because a replacement site hasn’t been readied.

The Futenma base is located in a heavily populated area, and residents have long protested against the noise, the potential for accidents and base-related crime. A CH-53 helicopter from Futenma crashed into a nearby university building in 2004, causing a huge anti-base uproar, although there were no civilian injuries and the crew survived. AP




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards

ANG conducts air refueling training with NATO allies in Germany

Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards A NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft approaches a Utah Air National Guard KC-135R Stratotanker for air refueling during a training flight over Germany on Jan. 13, 2015. Nearly 30 airme...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales

Ramstein Airmen train with French air force

Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales Two U.S. Air Force pilots and a French air force navigator discuss the route to the drop zone during a simulated low-level drop Jan. 21, 2015, at Orleans – Bricy Air...
 
 

Marines receive first F-35C Lightning II carrier variant

The first F-35C Lightning II, carrier variant, for the U.S. Marine Corps touched-down on the flight line at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 13, from the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas, to begin training in support of carrier-based operations. U.S. Marine Lt. Col. J.T. Ryan, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 501 detachment commander...
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald

40 years of Red Flag at Nellis

U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald A flight of F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons Aggressors fly in formation over the Nevada Test and Training Ranges June 5, 2008. The proposal for Red Flag came in early...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Navy gears up to order production of 29 aircraft diagnostic systems

Lockheed Martin photograph Petty Officers Third Class Ira Schwartz assigned to Fleet Readiness Center Southeast at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., left, and Devin Riley from Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic at Naval Ai...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

96th Test Group brings ‘R2-D2′ to life

Courtesy photograph A Rear Cockpit Pallet is mounted in the back of a T-38 Talon Jan. 13, 2015 at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. The project to build the RCP began from a need to design a platform that could serve to perform hig...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>