The United States has confirmed that senior officials from the Department of Defense will meet with representatives from the Japanese government on Friday to discuss the safety of the MV-22 Osprey aircrafts scheduled to be deployed in Okinawa. George Little, the Pentagon Press Secretary, told reporters that the meeting will take place at the Pentagon, and is meant to show that the Department of Defense takes the concerns of the Japanese government seriously.
The original plans last week were to have the Osprey aircrafts begin assembly and test flights in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, before being deployed to the U.S. Military’s Futenma base in Okinawa as replacements for aging helicopters. Both the residents and local leaders of Iwakuni, followed by the same in Okinawa, firmly protested the U.S.’s plans over safety concerns as a result of two recent crashes of Ospreys that ended in several deaths. They said they needed further proof of the aircrafts’ safety before they can be used, with some Okinawa locals adding that the U.S. Military hasn’t explained to them why the Ospreys need to be used in Okinawa, and that if they are deployed, it become even more difficult for the Futenma base and the soldiers stationed there to be relocated.
The U.S. has stated that the MV-22 Osprey is not a combat vehicle, and is only used for transport. The aircraft features two rotating propellers on airplane-like wings, allowing it to make vertical landings and takeoffs, better mobility and speed than a helicopter, and is much quieter than a traditional jet. On Friday’s meeting, the Defense Department officials will address the causes of the April 22nd Osprey accident in Morocco, as well as another occurrence in Florida on June 13th, and intend to show that they were the results of human error, and not mechanical malfunction.