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.


 
 

 

USO Visit

Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara Actor Vince Vaughn speaks with Edwards Airmen and 412th Security Forces Squadron members at the base library before introducing an advance screening of his new movie, “Unfinished Business,” at the base theater Feb. 28.
 
 
navy-raaf

RAAF aircrew complete basic training in Growler

Five Royal Australian Air Force aircrew personnel graduated from basic training at Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129, the U.S. Navy’s EA-18G Growler Fleet Replacement Squadron, during a ceremony Feb. 27 at Naval Air St...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash

AF leaders seek relief from sequestration-level funding

Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III testify before the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriationsí Defense Subcommitte...
 

 
navy-china

USS Fort Worth conducts CUES with Chinese Navy

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) practiced the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) with the People’s Liberation Army-Navy Jiangkai II frigate Hengshui (FFG 572) Feb. 23 enhancing the professional ma...
 
 

AEGIS tracks, simulates engagement of three short-range ballistic missiles

The Missile Defense Agency and sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyers USS Carney (DDG 64), USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), and USS Barry (DDG 52) successfully completed a flight test involving the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense weapon system. At approximately 2:30 a.m., EST, Feb. 26, three short-range ballistic missile targets were launched near simultaneously from NASA’s Wallops...
 
 

DOD seeks novel ideas to shape its technological future

The Defense Department is seeking novel ideas to shape its future, and officials are looking to industry, small business, academia, start-ups, the public – anyone, really – to boost its ability to prevail against adversaries whose access to technology grows daily. The program, called the Long-Range Research and Development Plan, or LRRDP, began with an...
 




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>