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Global Times

Japan's GSDF starts US Osprey aircraft deployment amid local concerns

Global Times

Source: Xinhua Published: 2020/7/10 21:21:15

The Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force started its deployment of the US military's Osprey transport aircraft at Camp Kisarazu in Chiba Prefecture on Friday amid local concerns about the aircraft's safety.

A V-22 Osprey arrived at the camp shortly after 4 p.m. local time on Friday, after a four-day delay due to bad weather. It is one of the two that have undergone maintenance at US Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan's western prefecture of Yamaguchi since its arrival in May.

The Japanese government plans to home 17 Ospreys at the camp for up to five years until they are permanently stationed to an airport in the southwestern prefecture of Saga.

However, it is not known when the deployment to Saga will be realized due to stalled negotiations with local fishermen, who own part of the land for the airport.

According to the Defense Ministry, GSDF will start flights of the Ospreys as early as August after undergoing a month of maintenance checks. Taking into account of strong local concerns and oppositions, it may start with basic, on-base training and widen the flight area gradually.

The accident-prone tilt-rotor aircraft, which can take off and land like a helicopter and fly like a fixed-winged plane, has worried local Japanese due to its checkered safety history since its design phase.

A US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey made an emergency landing in Japan's Oita Prefecture, on the eastern coast of Kyushu, in August 2017, while a similar plane made a crash-landing off Nago in Okinawa in December 2016.

The turboprop plane was also involved in a fatal crash off the coast of Australia in August 2017 that killed three personnel aboard.

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