Pentagon admit Osprey deployment delays to Okinawa

Senior Defense Department officials said Friday the long-planned deployment of the Marines’ MV-22 Ospreys to Okinawa might be postponed in the face of mounting opposition in Japan over the safety of the tilt-rotor aircraft.

“There’s never been a deployment schedule” for the Ospreys, a senior Defense official said on background , despite repeated on-the-record statements to the contrary by other Defense officials and the Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps said Thursday there had been no changes in the long-planned schedule to move 12 Ospreys from the Marines’ Naval Air Station at Iwakuni, on the Japanese home island of Honshu, to Okinawa later this month. The Marines had hope to start flying out of the Futenma Air Station on Okinawa in October.

The Marines want to station a total of 24 Ospreys at Futenma to replace the Vietnam-era CH-46 helicopters they have been using.

Two senior Defense officials, who spoke at the Pentagon on grounds of anonymity, said the work of the U.S.-Japan Joint Committee meeting in Japan on the reliability of the Ospreys had bogged down on the safety of operating the aircraft over populated areas.

“The issue is safety and we need to re-confirm the issue of safety,” one of the senior defense officials said. The official sidestepped the apparent contradiction on the scheduling issue, saying only “that’s where the process is at the moment.”

A Marine spokesman confirmed that the plan had been to put the Ospreys in Futenma in September and have them flying in October “but we know that the decision is going to be made at higher levels. We’ll carry out our orders as they are given. We do hope they’ll be there [in Okinawa] in October.”

The Joint Committee has been reviewing two recent Osprey accidents – a training crash of a Marine MV-22 in Morocco in April that killed two crew members and a second crash near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in June that injured four aboard a CV-22, the Air Force variant of the Opsrey.
Last Sunday, protesters on Okinawa marched against the deployment of the Ospreys and also called for the shutdown of Futenma. Rally organizers estimated the crowd at 100,000, but home island Japanese officials said about 25,000 turned out.

Under the current Status of Forces agreement, the U.S. could unilaterally put the Ospreys on Okinawa. In Tokyo, the English-language Japan Times called for the U.S. and Japan to consider scrapping the Osprey deployment to preserve the close security relationship between the two countries.

In an editorial, the newspaper said the “deployment will intensify the feelings by Okinawans that they are discriminated against.
“The U.S. and Japan should rethink the Osprey deployment plan,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote.

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Richard Sisk
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  • EW3

    We have plenty of leverage that would help us get the Japanese to permit us to station them there. But we need national leadership that knows how to deal.

    • IronV

      What a pile of horse dung. “National leadership” was good enough to make the pursuit of Osama bin Laden a top priority and execute on that imperative.

    • blight_

      Economic sanctions? Nope.
      Exclusion from RIMPAC: counterproductive.
      Exclusion from SEATO: counterproductive
      Cutoff of military ties?
      Immigration clampdown?
      Snub them politely with little real effect: sure
      Withdraw troops: Gives them what they want
      Surge of troops: Will make relations with the United States worse. Creates opportunities for an American-Japanese split.

      There are a number of options available, and some may work on Iran but won’t work on Japan.

      • EW3

        China is getting more aggressive every year.

        Right now they are testing the PI, Taiwan, Japan and VN.

        We do not need to implement any of your suggestions.

        All we need to say is, would you like our help to Japan.
        They will understand.

    • steve

      Might be better for all of this current energy be spent getting to the core of the difficulties this aircraft has, when all the malfunctions are considered as an OPEN BOOK? This also brings to mind that Air Air Force fighter plane that is all but grounded due to consistent Oxygen System malfunctions, endangering the Pilots lives, and the population, that it flies over as part of their missions? We are talking about BILLIONS of dollars here, plus relationships with other countries? Want to prove a point….have the president use th9is aircraft, instead of the regular “helos” in use to transport him about and around???

  • jamesb


    This Helo is going to HMX-1 as a white TOP?

  • Tiger

    So the International V-22 hate club has that many members? Well, thats nice. Concerns are duly noted. Now lets grow a pair & have 24 birds on the Flight line on Monday at 0800. With “Ride of the Valkyries” by Wagner playing loudly…….

    I come from “Speak softly & carry a Pit bull” school of diplomatic relations after events of the last few days. There is nothing to fear from the Osprey being based at MCAS Futenma.

  • Matt

    The V-22 is the most amazing piece of technology I’ve ever seen, americans should be proud of this marvel. Haters just don’t understand anything.

    • Rob


    • Guest

      Agreed as well. It’s a great aircraft that doesn’t deserve the crap it gets.

  • Guest

    I live just a few miles away from Bell’s Osprey assembly plant, so I get frequent fly-overs by Osprey test flights. I’ve seen plenty of Ospreys in level flight and helicopter mode as well as transitions, and I’ve never seen one fall out of the sky yet. I don’t think that operating Ospreys in any civilian environment is hazardous. Unfortunately, Japan has local politics just like the U.S.

  • RunningBear

    Don’t despair, until out Nov election is final (Ha!) nothing will be done but placate the local politicians. If osama… oh, I meant the other guy remains in office, it would not matter. He intends to “clip” the US and dismantle our military; it is his objective.

  • jamesb

    May I remind those here….
    That the CURRENT President is MORE of a WAR Commander-In Chief than ANY President since FDR probably……

    And has completed objects his predecessor NEVER did..

    The BS about him dismantling this countries military is just that…

  • jamesb


  • Hefe

    I remember reading an article in which a general said the Osprey saves lives. The primary reason being that roads in warzones have IED’s, With the Osprey you can transport troops and goods via air transport and bypass all the booby trapped roads.It lands just about anywhere also. I am curious how bulletproof- rpg proof they are though. Overall I think it’s a good piece of equipment.

    • Riceball

      It’s no more bullet or RPG proof than any other transport helo or airplane out there. The advantage the Osprey has over helos is that it’s faster so it can get out of small arms and RPG range much faster.

  • Uncle Bill

    I don’t care for the gotcha’ journalism style of the headline. The Pentagon “Admits”?

  • Speedy

    Stats please?

    Osprey flight hours v accidents/crashes. (As a percentage etc)
    Compare with different types of cars, other planes, helicopters etc.
    Broken down by “Driver error” v “Opps, forgot to tighten the screws”.

    That way, we can see what the truth is about how good the amazing looking craft is compared to other transports.

    (Unless of course the truth is not what is wanted.)

    Also, still waiting for a jet engine version…

    • rudyh

      that’s a big GO for the jet engine vector version……look at U-tube for the VJ101 and Dornier Do31 types….they’ll do….politicos prevented their production Europa…..

  • ken badoian

    Isn’t there an agreement about the bases? I am sure whit China making a fuss about those disputed islands all the BS about the 22 will slowly die away. I live in Wilmington NC and almost everyday V-22’s fly over…NO problem. I’ll benObama credit for his drone attacks,etc. but I am sick and tired about all the talk who is better the Republicans or the Democrats…when it comes to booths on the ground, or ships at sea (USN Ret.), we should focus on policy not personalities…MMCS(SW)(SS) USN Ret.

    • tiger

      The V-22 is just a excuse for protest. The real issue is the base it’s self. They want it closed. Aircraft type does not matter.

  • EJ257

    “The Marines want to station a total of 24 Ospreys at Futenma”

    Did anyone else read this as Futurama?

    • top dog

      I like the cartoon myself. That “one eyed cyclops” is kinda sexy in a bikini.

  • Mitch S.

    Article says the issue is “the safety of operating the aircraft over populated areas”.

    I wonder if that’s so. How many Osprey crashes occurred when it was flying over anything? Most, if not all happened during liftoff or landing – if that happened it would be on base (or on airport tarmac) and not endanger the populace.
    This may be more about some Okinawans/Japanese not liking the American presence and not wanting to be a target if hostilities break out.

    A bit sad seeing Japanese protest cool new tech like the Osprey.
    Once upon a time they would love to see new tech and would look to copying and improving it.
    Seems they’ve lost their “mojo”.
    South Korea, Taiwan and China are making the innovations and products Japan had been known for (look at Samsung vs Sony for example). And now, post Fukushima they’ve simply decided to abandon nuc energy rather than investing in new technology (nuc and otherwise) to keep them from being totally at the whim of foreign energy suppliers.

    • tiger

      Mitch, good call. This more NIMBY about the base, than the V-22.

  • torquewrench

    “The V-22 is the most amazing piece of technology I’ve ever seen, americans should be proud of this marvel. Haters just don’t understand anything.”

    The B-58 Hustler bomber was an amazing piece of technology. It vastly outperformed its predecessors in terms of speed and altitude. It set huge numbers of performance records.

    But the service career of the B-58 was short, and the money invested in it was wasted.

    Because the B-58 cost too much to buy, cost too much to fly, carried less, was a maintenance hog, and was built around a concept of operations that was being rapidly obsoleted by advances in threat technology.

    For “B-58”, read “V-22”.

    • Joe

      Except the MV-22 costs less to fly, carries more, and has far lower maintenance requirements than the CH-46. Not to mention vastly improved data systems.

  • Guest

    Why couldn’t the Navy, Marines and Air Force just be ISSUED the CH-47D and ORDERED to fit it into their operations plans?

  • NoSugarAdded

    Update on V-22
    Bloomberg News

    Japan Declares U.S. V-22 Osprey Safe to Send to Okinawa Base

    By Isabel Reynolds and Takashi Hirokawa on September 19, 2012