WASHINGTON, June 29 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Department on Friday announced it is moving forward with deployment of the accident-prone MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft in Japan beginning in August, despite local resistance.
The Pentagon said in a press release the Ospreys will replace CH-46 helicopters used by the III Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa. It acknowledged concerns regarding recent accidents involving an MV-22 and a CV-22 aircraft by the governor of Okinawa, according to Pentagon Press Secretary George Little. Senior Defense officials briefed a Japanese delegation on the incidents at the Pentagon June 22.
On April 11 in Morocco, an MV-22 crashed while taking part in a bilateral military exercise. There were no casualties. Flight data indicates the aircraft performed as expected. The Pentagon said the U.S. Marine Corps determined the aircraft did not suffer a mechanical or material failure and there were no problems with the aircraft's safety.
Earlier this month, a CV-22 crashed during a training mission in Navarre, Florida, leaving five crew members injured. A preliminary review uncovered no information that would preclude the aircraft's continued operation.
In response to remaining safety concerns, the MV-22 will not fly in Japan until results of the investigations are presented to the Japanese government in August.
Basing the Osprey in Okinawa, according to the Pentagon, will strengthen the U.S. ability to provide for the defense of Japan, perform humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, and fulfill other alliance roles.
Governor of Japan's southernmost prefecture had called for the Japanese central government to abort the plan earlier this month. The aircraft was set to be deployed at the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in the prefecture.
The aircraft is capable of both vertical takeoff and landing, and short takeoff and landing. It is a multi-mission aircraft developed to fill multi-service combat operational requirements. However, its recent accidents had caused concerns among local governments and residents over the presence of the aircraft in such a densely populated district.