Nighttime Osprey flights double, conflicting with claims of burden reduction

October 8, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

On October 7, the Okinawa Defense Bureau announced the results of a survey calculating the activity of MV-22 Osprey aircraft and helicopters at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma during fiscal 2014 (April 2014-March 2015). Osprey takeoffs numbered 1,368, and landings numbered 1,367.

The total of takeoffs and landings was 2,7351, an increase of 1,072 compared to the previous year. Though nighttime flights after 10 p.m. are supposed to be restricted by the Aircraft Noise Regulation Measures agreed upon by the US and Japan, nighttime flights rose to 137, which was 60 more than the previous year, or 2.3 times more.

The survey was carried out by the Okinawa Defense Bureau on all days except holidays. It also surveyed flight patterns. The results showed that Osprey were seen flying south of the flight route determined by the U.S.-Japan joint committee in 2007.

Helicopters were also found to be flying outside of the determined flight routes. However, the Defense Bureau stated, “Weather conditions, such as wind speed and direction, mean that it is necessary for each flight to take a different route. The survey results do not imply that the U.S. military is not adhering to reports.”

Toshio Takahashi, leader of the plaintiffs in the Futenma noise lawsuit, spoke damningly, saying, “The government claims that they are reducing our burden, but this is proof that the opposite is actually true. The very fact that Osprey were deployed at Futenma, which even the U.S. admits is the most dangerous base in the world, is unacceptable.”

At a press conference on October 7, Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani said of the increase in nighttime Osprey flights, “I will ask the U.S. to adhere to the U.S.-Japan joint committee’s agreement and work to reduce the impact on residents as much as possible.” He expressed his intent to ensure adherence to the Aircraft Noise Regulation Measures.

(Translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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