Members of the Japanese Foreign Ministry and the Okinawa Defense Bureau visited the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on January 28. While there, the officials had a rare experience of flying an MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft via flight simulator.
Welcoming the visitors was Commanding officer of MCAS Futenma, Marine Corps Base camp Smedley D. Butler and Marine Corps Installation Pacific, Col. James G. Flynn. He described the importance of such visits, saying that it will “allow us the opportunity to share what our capabilities and missions are in Futenma.” He also noted that they wanted to express the fact that they want to safely conduct operations in the region as support for the alliance between Japan and the United States.
Current operations officer with Marine Aircraft Group 36, Maj. John P. Arnold, recognized the importance of the Osprey and the need of high-quality training for every pilot and highlighted the necessity that the ambassador and other officials from Okinawa and mainland Japan experience the simulators. Arnold added, “We can set any environment or condition in the simulator, which allows us to show them how safe this aircraft is.” After each official “piloted” his own mission flight by seating on the pilot’s seat of the simulator, they were advised on different safety measures that must be done when going into an operation. The Deputy Director General for the Okinawa Defense Bureau said he was “very impressed with the Marine Corps’ (initiative) to operate the aircraft safely.”
The presence of the Ospreys is one of the issues that the residents and local government of Okinawa have been protesting about the past years, given the spotty safety record of the aircraft which has been involved in several accidents in the US. Flynn hopes that this visit will give the officials the assurance that the ones operating the Ospreys are professional and are concerned when going into missions. The Futenma air base has also been a source of contention between the government and the residents, with the base set to be relocated to the less populous coastal area of Nago, which is still located in the prefecture. The people of Okinawa have been clamoring to lessen the American military presence in the region and lessen the burden on them hosting the armed forces.
[via DVIDS Hub]