An MV-22 Osprey has received the green light from the U.S. Marine Corps to resume deployment in Okinawa on Monday following a crash of an HH-60 Pave Hawk in Camp Hansen, also in the southern Japanese island. Eleven more Ospreys are expected to follow although it may be delayed just like the one that first arrived due to protests from Okinawa residents. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also asked the United States to suspend operations in the island due to the fatal crash last Monday which killed one airman.
The US Marine Corps says it has collaborated with the Japanese government regarding military deployment in Okinawa, where the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 is based. Also called the Flying Tigers, the squadron said that the deployment of MV-22 Ospreys will beef up its operations and transport systems. The Marine Corps also claims that MV-22 Osprey is “among the safest of all U.S. military aircraft” based on its safety records, despite several crashes and incidents that raised concerns among the residents of Okinawa. Routine tests were conducted the previous month in an air base outside Hiroshima to assure the public about the safety of the Ospreys.
As the Flying Tigers is involved with supplies and equipment transport, it is expected that it will hover close to residential areas. Prolonged presence of its helicopters may also cause unnecessary interruption to residents’ activities. In a press release on Monday the squadron reminded, “The MV-22B also flies higher and faster, spending less time over populated areas as compared to the CH-46E.” But the continuous assurance that the Ospreys are safe has not made a dent to the protests against their deployment. Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has publicly and repeatedly asked for the aircraft not to be deployed in his prefecture while rallies are regularly convened to express the residents’ objection to the Ospreys and the US military presence in general.
[via Stars and Stripes]