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Pentagon says V-22 Osprey to be based in Okinawa

Date Posted: 2010-09-16

Although the Japanese government is officially denying any decision has been made, the U.S. Defense Department says the MV-22 Osprey aircraft is going to be assigned to Okinawa.

“We anticipate that Ospreys will indeed operate in Japan, and we’ve told the Japanese government as much,” says Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell, “including where and when and how things are to be determined.” He called the tilt-rotor vertical take-off-and-landing aircraft “an incredibly effective form of airlift that will enhance our alliance capabilities. Morrell did not say exactly when the planes would cross the Pacific, saying only “at some point.”

Japan’s Foreign Minister says it could allow the Osprey to operate in Okinawa. Katsuya Okada told the House of Councillors Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee it’s “a possibility”, adding the government will inform Okinawa at such time anything’s made official. That, he said, could have an impact on the runways alignment for the proposed new airbase at Camp Schwab in Nago City’s Henoko district.

The deployment of the Osprey is certain to trigger renewed complaints from Okinawa. Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has already expressed his displeasure at the thought of the Osprey coming to Okinawa, noting risks posed by the aircraft. “We are exchanging opinions at the working level” of an Osprey deployment, says Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, who says such aircraft movements would be done in accordance with U.S. military requirements.

Okada first broached the possibility of the Osprey being deployed to Okinawa during a Diet meeting earlier this month. He told lawmakers that prior to such a move, the government plans to explain to local governments in Okinawa about the plans and flight routes.

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