U.S. Marine Corps conducts suspension training at Futenma, unusually near to urban areas

U.S. Marine Corps conducts suspension training at Futenma, unusually near to urban areas

At 4:11 p.m. on November 18 in Ginowan City, suspension training is conducted from an MV-22 Osprey in the sky over Futenma Air Station (photograph provided by Naoya Oshiro)

November 19, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo

On the evening of November 18 at the Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City, Okinawa, suspension training was conducted using an MV-22 Osprey vertical takeoff and landing transport aircraft from the air station. The training involved a rectangluar, cage-like object being suspended from and pulled back up to the aircraft while the aircraft hovered near the center of a runway of the air station. This training was repeated nine times. According to the Ginowan Municipal Government, the Osprey also conducted suspension training on the air station on November 9. Up to this point, accidents involving dropped objects have been occurring one after another, and it is extremely unusual for suspension training to be conducted at Futenma Air Station, which is surrounded by urban areas. This appears to run counter to base burden reduction efforts, and people living in the vicinity have made complaints and expressed indignation.

>> [Video] Osprey conducts suspension training at Futenma, unusually near to urban areas

The Ryukyu Shimpo has confirmed that suspension training was intermittently conducted using the Osprey between around 2:40 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. on November 18. At times, strong winds blew, and the suspended object swung dramatically left and right. The first suspension training lasted about 2-3 minutes, and during this time the aircraft hovered at a constant altitude.

According to the Ginowan City Base Relations Division, residents have lodged six complaints pertaining to noise as of 4:30 p.m. on November 18. During repeated suspension training involving the hovering of the Osprey, complaints such as “It has been loud for one or two hours straight” and about the issue of “low-altitude flying” were brought to the division.

In an interview with the Ryukyu Shimpo on November 18, a spokesperson for the Marine Corps in Okinawa insisted on the propriety of the training, stating that all of the training conducted at Futenma Air Station (on November 18) was essential for fulfilling the United States’ duties in its security guarentee to Japan based in Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. This reasoning was not clear in that the specifics of the training cannot be described as having a security motive.

Before the training, the U.S. military issued a notice to airmen about the suspension training. Although the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) received inquiries about implementation of the training, the ODB did not respond until nighttime on November 18. As of the evening of November 18, the Okinawa Prefectural Government was still collecting information pertaining to these matters.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)


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