The U.S. Marines are conducting their first test flights of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft in Japan after months of protests there over safety concerns.
The hybrid aircraft can take off like a helicopter and fly like an airplane. Flight operations were conducted Friday at a base in southern Japan where they are temporarily deployed before being transferred to Okinawa.
Following two recent crashes, tens of thousands of Okinawans have protested the deployment, saying that they are not safe to fly in Okinawa’s crowded environment.
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The U.S. will delay flight operations by Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys in Okinawa until the Japanese government agrees that the hybrid aircraft is safe, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Friday.
Panetta told Pentagon reporters that U.S. officials are completing a safety report and will provide Japanese leaders with details on two recent Osprey crashes in Florida and Morocco.
His comments came after he met with Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto, who then left the Pentagon for a flight on an Osprey to the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va.
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Japan’s prime minister says he will not allow any flights of the US military’s latest transport aircraft in this country until its safety after two recent crashes has been confirmed.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told Parliament on Tuesday that no flights would take place until investigations into the April and June crashes were completed and Japan was satisfied the aircraft are not a safety hazard.
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The U.S. military’s Osprey aircraft arrived in Japan early Monday as residents rallied against their deployment after recent crashes raised safety concerns.Live television footage showed 12 MV-22s being unloaded from a cargo ship at the U.S. Marines’ base in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture.Local protesters in a dozen small boats demonstrated against the controversial aircraft’s arrival, chanting “We don’t want the dangerous Osprey!” and “Osprey, go back to America.”
Read the rest of the story: Protests as 12 Osprey aircraft arrive at Iwakuni ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion.