Aug 5, 2014

Osprey flights expanding across Japan

Despite a checkered history, nearly two years after the first MV-22B arrived in Japan, the head of the Okinawa-based 1st Marine Aircraft Wing is praising how the aircraft and its long range has spawned a transition in Marine aviation in the region, one that has caught the attention of allies in the Asia-Pacific region.
The interest in the V-22 centers on the aircraft’s range and speed, a combo that allows Marines to react to crises faster than with the Osprey’s predecessor, the CH-46 Sea Knight, said Brig. Gen. Steven Rudder, 1st MAW’s commanding general. Now, Marines can move from Okinawa to mainland Japan in just three or four hours, and the Philippines in three. Other nations — Rudder did not say which ones — are impressed and want to add this range, speed and mobility to their own arsenal. They might not, however, look specifically to the V-22 as a way to combine ground and air forces, he said.
Japan, for its part, is considering a purchase of 17 Ospreys over the next five years.
Japanese newspapers have also reported that Ospreys will be relocated to Saga Airport, about 600 miles north of Okinawa, raising questions about what sort of noise and safety issuesthe aircraft will bring there. But Rudder said that there are no plans to reposition Ospreys out of Okinawa since they are linked to ground forces based there, but Ospreys do, however, have short deployments in Saga Province.

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