U.S. Government to deploy MV-22 Osprey to Futenma in July, ahead of schedule

U.S. Government to deploy MV-22 Osprey to Futenma in July, ahead of schedule

MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft at the Marine Corps Air Station Mirama, San Diego, California, in January. Such aircraft will be deployed to the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma ahead of schedule, in July.

April 25, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

The United States Government will deploy the MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft to the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in July, earlier than stated in the original planned timing of autumn this year. On April 24, several Japanese government officials confirmed that the U.S. Government had informed Japan of the possibility of earlier deployment.

While a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey crashed in Morocco this month, with the cause of the accident still under investigation, the Corps will deploy the aircraft to Okinawa without waiting for the findings of the investigation. According to the initial deployment plan, the Government of Japan and the U.S. Government had discussed temporary deployment to U.S. military bases on the main islands of Japan prior to placing them at the Futenma base. However, this option was canceled because of opposition from local people and municipalities around those bases in the main islands, and the U.S. government decided to deploy the aircraft directly to Futenma. The Ginowan Municipal Office, the Okinawa Prefectural government and local residents have been increasing their opposition to the early deployment of the Osprey, because they question the safety of the Osprey and have requested that the governments of the United States and Japan abandon the deployment of the Osprey to Futenma.

The Marine Corps Public Affairs Office in Okinawa commented to the Ryukyu Shimpo that the aircraft would be in place by the end of September, but declined to give a more concrete timeline because a formal decision is yet to be made by the government. However, the United States conveyed the earlier deployment plan to Japan during an information exchange session, and Japan is to accept the plan offered by the United States Government.

In the Marine Corps Aviation Plan the Corps stated that it would deploy the Osprey to Futenma in October 2012, but officials have since decided to bring the deployment forward to July for reasons including training and operational missions. In addition, the Marine Corps is concerned about the age of the medium-sized CH-46 transport helicopters currently deployed at Futenma. An official announcement regarding the timing for deployment of the Osprey is to be arranged between two governments. It will be made following the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly election in June, because the governments want to avoid it impacting upon the election.

The U.S. Marine Corps initially will deploy just a few aircraft to Futenma and in the course of time a dozen aircraft will be relocated there. The total number will to increase to 24 aircraft.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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