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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 October 14 - 20  > US military plans to conduct Osprey flight drills throughout Japan
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2015 October 14 - 20 [US FORCES]

US military plans to conduct Osprey flight drills throughout Japan

October 16, 2015
The U.S. Forces in Japan is planning to conduct flight training exercises involving U.S. transport aircraft Ospreys throughout Japan. This was revealed by a report the U.S. Air Force compiled this year.

In May, the Japanese and U.S. governments announced a plan to deploy a total of 10 CV-22 Ospreys to the U.S. Yokota Air Base in Tokyo by 2021. In relation to this plan, Japan’s Defense Ministry on October 15 made public the USAF report, “Environmental Review for the CV-22 Beddown at Yokota AB”.

The report shows the Yokota RAPCON airspace which covers nine prefectures in and around the Tokyo metropolitan area. This means that the U.S. forces will carry out Osprey flight training drills over densely-populated areas across the Kanto region.

The U.S. military already deployed 24 MV-22 Ospreys to the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Okinawa and these MV-22s often conduct flight training on mainland Japan. It is clear that CV-22s will engage in flight training in various areas in Japan along with the MV-22s stationed at Futenma.

CV-22s are notorious for their high accident rate compared to other aircraft of the USAF. The Environmental Review, however, insists that “as the CV-22 becomes more operationally mature, the aircraft mishap rate is expected to become comparable to a similarly sized helicopter.”

Meanwhile, the report admits that Ospreys deployed in Japan may crash, stating, “The probability of an aircraft crashing into a populated area is extremely low, but cannot be totally discounted.”

According to that review, the U.S. military is also going to hold live-shell exercises involving Ospreys. Some CV-22s are equipped with various types of weapons systems.

The places listed for the live-fire drills include firing ranges in Okinawa and Aomori prefectures as well as the Higashi-Fuji training ground which is located at the foot of Mt. Fuji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Regarding the drills at Higashi-Fuji, the report anticipates “increased annoyance resulting from an incremental increase in the frequency of firing events”.

Past related articles:
> US invites bids for preparatory work for deploying Ospreys to Yokota AB [July 25, 2015]
> Yamashita calls for withdrawal of Ospreys from Japan [May 19, 2015]
> Citizens protest against Osprey aircraft flying across Japan [July 16 and 20, 2014]
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