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HOME  > Past issues  > 2024 February 28 - March 5  > US military chopper flies at very low altitude over Saga airport runway
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2024 February 28 - March 5 [US FORCES]

US military chopper flies at very low altitude over Saga airport runway

March 1, 2024

A U.S. military helicopter flew at a very low altitude over a runway at a civil airport in Saga City without prior notice, the Saga Prefectural government announced on February 28.

According to the prefectural government, the chopper in question, believed to be a U.S. Marine Corps CH-53 helicopter, at about 12 p.m. on the day flew at only 10-20 meters above the airport runway with no prior notification.

The local authority made a complaint to the Defense Ministry regarding the no-notice low-altitude flight by the U.S. military aircraft, and demanded that the ministry urge the U.S. forces in Japan to look into this matter and take measures to prevent a recurrence.

Ikezaki Motoko, member of a Saga citizens’ group opposing the planned Osprey deployment in the prefecture, criticized the U.S. military chopper’s low-altitude flight and said that the national government should lodge a protest with the U.S. military.

Japanese Communist Party prefectural assemblymember Muto Akemi pointed out that this incident has made clear that under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, it is normal for the U.S. forces to use civilian airports in Japan. She continued to point out that with the deployment of Ground Self-Defense Forces’ Ospreys, the Saga airport will become a joint civilian/military airport, which may allow the U.S. military to use the airport just as it pleases. She said that the prefectural government should withdraw its approval for the GSDF Osprey deployment plan.
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