Japan and United States consider deploying CV-22 Osprey transport aircraft in Tokyo

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World Aviation Defense & Security News - United States and Japan
 
 
Japan and United States consider deploying CV-22 Osprey transport aircraft in Tokyo
 
Japan and the United States are considering deploying 12 CV-22 Osprey transport aircraft at the Yokota Air Base in Tokyo as soon as next July, a Japanese government source said Saturday. The governments initially planned to deploy the aircraft at Kadena air base in Okinawa. But ahead of the gubernatorial election there in November, Tokyo and Washington are looking at basing the aircraft in Tokyo to avoid increasing the island prefecture's burden from hosting U.S. military facilities.
     
Japan and the United States are considering deploying 12 CV-22 Osprey transport aircraft at the Yokota Air Base in Tokyo as soon as next July, a Japanese government source said Saturday. The governments initially planned to deploy the aircraft at Kadena air base in Okinawa. But ahead of the gubernatorial election there in November, Tokyo and Washington are looking at basing the aircraft in Tokyo to avoid increasing the island prefecture's burden from hosting U.S. military facilities.
Bell-Boeing CV-22 Osprey Tiltrotor Transport Aircraft
     
If deployed at Yokota, it would be the first time the tilt-rotor aircraft were based on the Japanese mainland. At present, 24 MV-22 Osprey aircraft are deployed at the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa.

The Japanese government plans to start assessing the effects of deploying Ospreys at Yokota by hearing the views of residents living near the base. Many locals are expected to oppose the deployment.

The U.S. Air Force had considered replacing C-130 transport aircraft at the Kadena base with Ospreys. But the Japanese central government concluded ahead of the Okinawan gubernatorial election that would be difficult as the prefectural government wants all 24 Ospreys at the Futenma facility moved out of the prefecture.

A long-stalled Japan-U.S. plan to close Futenma and shift its operations elsewhere in Okinawa is a major contentious point in the gubernatorial election, with incumbent Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima accepting the relocation and his rivals opposing it.

The CV-22 is the Air Force variant of the U.S. Marines' MV-22 aircraft, and used by the Air Force for special operations. While it shares basic features with the MV-22, the CV-22 is said to be used more often in tough conditions such as low-altitude flight.

Public opposition in Japan to wherever the aircraft might be based is driven by the Osprey's accident rate.

Since MV-22 flew to the U.S. Navy's Atsugi base in Kanagawa Prefecture near Tokyo for the first time on July 15, the aircraft that can take off and land like a helicopter and cruise like an airplane has flown to the Tokyo region several times.

In July last year, Gen. Herbert Carlisle, commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Force, indicated Yokota was being considered as a possible base for the CV-22 Osprey besides the Kadena base.

The two governments had planned to make a final decision on the CV-22 Osprey deployment at the beginning of this year, but delayed it as local governments near the Yokota base requested the central government retract the deployment plan.

 

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