Twelve MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft were off-loaded from a civilian cargo ship at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, July 23. This marks the first deployment of the MV-22 to Japan.
The aircraft will be stationed aboard Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, Japan, as part of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 (HMM-265).
MCAS Iwakuni features both an airfield and a port facility, making it a safe and operationally feasible location to offload the aircraft. The offload was closely coordinated with Government of Japan.
„We are obviously pleased to demonstrate the capacity of this co-located deep water harbor and aerial port of operations. It clearly highlights Iwakuni’s position as a logistical lynchpin in the strategic alliance between the United States and Japan here in the Western Pacific,” said Col James C. Stewart, Commanding Officer of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.
Marines will prepare the aircraft for flight after its 5000-mile journey aboard the civilian cargo ship Green Ridge. However, the MV-22 Ospreys will not conduct functional check flights until the results of safety investigations are presented to the Government of Japan and the safety of flight operations is confirmed. Following safety confirmation and functional check flights, the Ospreys will fly to their new home aboard MCAS Futenma.
Groups opposed to the MV-22 deployment in Japan have demonstrated in Okinawa and Iwakuni. Recognizing the concerns of Japanese citizens led U.S. and Japanese officials to ensure safety of flight operations is confirmed before Ospreys fly in Japan.
Deployment of the MV-22 Osprey to Japan marks a significant step forward in modernization of Marine Corps aircraft here in support of the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance. Throughout the Marine Corps, Ospreys have been replacing CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, which made their Marine Corps debut during the Vietnam era.
The Osprey is a revolutionary and highly-capable aircraft with an excellent operational safety record. It combines the vertical capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft.
The Osprey’s capabilities will significantly strengthen the Marine Corps' ability to provide for the defense of Japan, perform humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and fulfill other Alliance roles.
The Osprey has assisted in humanitarian operations in Haiti, participated in the recovery of a downed U.S. pilot in Libya, supported combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has conducted multiple Marine Expeditionary Unit deployments.
As of April 11, 2012, the Osprey has flown more than 115,000 flight hours, with approximately one third of the total hours flown during the last two years.
A second squadron of 12 aircraft is scheduled to arrive at MCAS Futenma during the summer of 2013.