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.

About the Author

Richard Sisk
Richard Sisk is a reporter for Military.com. He can be reached at richard.sisk@military.com.
  • 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.

  • jamesb

    Again….

    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.

  • 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.

    • bmart.

      Lucky! I wish I got to see Osprey ops on a daily basis, haha

    • osprey

      saw them at a airshow this weekend awsome hover and nice and fast in airplane mode.nice equipment

  • 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.

    • IronV

      Given the number of Islamo leaders he’s hunted down and killed and the number of times he’s used US Special Forces properly, your assertion doesn’t mean much.

    • Guest

      What a load! President Obama pushed for the largest peace time defense budget in history, and has never hesitated to use deadly force against any terrorists even if it meant violating the national sovereignty of the countries shielding them. And yes, that would be primarily Pakistan, but also look at U.S. operations in Yemen. And, for all you wingers who haven’t been paying attention, the U.S. has begun a major military shift to confront Chinese expansionism.

      All this nonsense about Democrats being soft on defense gets pretty tiresome. It wasn’t Republican presidents that led us to victory in WW1 and WW2. It wasn’t a Republican president that intervened in the genocide in Kosovo. It wasn’t a Republican president who rescinded Reagan’s ban on political assignations and issued an executive order calling for the termination of Osama bin Laden years before 9/11. It certainly wasn’t a Republican president who brought down Qaddafi, in spite of a Republican controlled House whining about the President’s abuse of power. How about you read some history and get a grip on reality instead of your party’s dogma?

  • 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…
    BS……

    • Pappa51

      I want so of what you’ve been smoking…

    • tiger

      Well The Nobel peace prize folks would like their prize back……

    • IronV

      You’re right. The only objective evidence indicates the exact opposite.

  • jamesb

    objectives…..

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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”.

  • 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