US And Japan Resume Military Operations

US and Japanese forces will resume flying Osprey aircraft in Japan now that necessary training and maintenance has been completed following last November’s fatal crash in southern Japan, the Associated Press reported.

The entire US and Japanese fleets of Ospreys, an aircraft that takes off like a helicopter and flies like an airplane, were grounded on December 6 following the November 29 crash of a US Air Force Osprey during a training mission off the southern coast of Japan that killed all eight crew members aboard.

However, on March 8, US Naval Air Systems Command said the Osprey aircraft were cleared to return to service.

Japan’s Defense Ministry said each branch of the US military would have separate return-to-flight schedules and the two countries were discussing a timeline to resume Osprey flights in Japan. The aircraft that had already completed the necessary training and maintenance returned to flight operations last week.

According to the Defense Ministry, the November 29 crash was not due to a faulty design in the Osprey but a part problem and similar problems can be prevented by taking steps to mitigate the issue.

For the time being, the Osprey will only operate in the area surrounding their bases on Okinawa as a way to address safety concerns from the locals who have voiced strong opposition to the aircraft.

US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which has a fleet of 24 Osprey aircraft, is located in Okinawa.

Denny Tamaki, the governor of Okinawa, opposes the military’s plan to resume Osprey operations, arguing that the explanation for the cause of the November crash was insufficient.

Tamaki told reporters on March 13 that the Defense Ministry gave him no explanation for the decision to return Ospreys to operation. He said he planned to ask both the Defense Ministry and the US military to keep the Ospreys grounded until they disclose the cause of the crash and the safety measures implemented.