US military carries out Osprey training at new helipad in Takae for the first time

US military carries out Osprey training at new helipad in Takae for the first time

MV-22 Osprey flight training was carried out near a helipad around N4 area in Takae, Higashi at 11:25 a.m. on February 25 (Photograph provided by the Association of Residents Against the Helipad).

February 26, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

The U.S. military plans to build military helipads as a condition of the partial return of its Northern Training Area. At a newly built helipad in the N4 area on February 24, local citizens confirmed the U.S. military had carried out MV-22 Osprey aircraft training. The Japanese government provided the area to the U.S. military before returning another section of land occupied by the military to landowners on February 24. The military officially started using the helipad on February 24. This is the first time the Osprey training has been confirmed. The N4 area is the closest to Takae Village. An increase in Osprey and other aircraft flight training is expected to reduce the quality of life and safety of the village, due to noise pollution, safety risks, and negative impacts on wildlife.

According to residents who saw the Osprey flight training, the aircraft landed on N4-2 helipad once at 11:23 a.m., and flew over the sky in an area close to N4. At around 4:20 p.m., another aircraft flew to the area and then landed on N4-2 and N4-1 helipads. Upon landing, the aircraft blew dust and generated huge noise.

The military is scheduled to carry out Osprey flight training an estimated 2,520 times a year at newly built helipads in the Takae district of Higashi Village and the Aha district of Kunigami Village. The estimated number is double the number of flight training for the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters at existing helipads. While the Okinawa Defense Bureau carried out an environmental assessment prior to building helipads, it did not factor in the impact of Osprey aircraft training because it did not know at the time the aircraft would be used. This has presented a problem.

The construction of two helipads in the N4 area was completed in July 2014. The Japanese government provided them to the U.S. military on February 17. However, the military used these helipads two times before they were officially handed over. On February 23, Higashi Village Assembly resolved to request the military not to use the N4 area for Osprey flight training.

The bureau contracted Nakahodo Construction to build the helipads in the G area in Aha for 190 million yen. The construction is scheduled for completion by March 31, 2016.

(English translation by T&CT)

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