U.S. promises consultation with Japan before Osprey flight resumption
TOKYO – The United States has promised to consult with Japan before it resumes Osprey flights in the nation after suspending them following a deadly crash of one of the tilt-rotor aircraft late last year, Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara said Tuesday.
Kihara told a press conference he understands that U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has instructed the U.S. forces and relevant departments not to operate Ospreys in Japan without coordinating with the Japanese government in advance.
“Ensuring the safety of Ospreys is the common top priority for Japan and the United States,” Kihara added.
Washington decided to ground all of its Ospreys worldwide on Dec 6, a week after a U.S. Air Force CV-22 transport plane crashed into the sea near Yakushima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture in late November, killing all eight people on board.
The decision followed repeated requests from Japan, whose Ground Self-Defense Force has suspended flights of its V-22 Ospreys from the day after the accident amid public concerns over the aircraft’s safety.
Kihara, meanwhile, said it is hard to answer when the Osprey flights will resume and when the U.S. military will conclude the ongoing investigation into the cause of the incident, including analyzing the recovered flight recorder.
The U.S. military has deployed MV-22s, used by the U.S. Marine Corps, at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture and is operating the CV-22s, used by the U.S. Air Force, from Yokota Air Base in the western suburbs of Tokyo.