On Friday, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) accepted delivery of its first two V-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The vehicles arrived aboard a transport ship, their propellers and wings folded tight for storage.
In May 2015, Japan requested to buy 17 V-22B Block C Ospreys via the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales program, becoming the aircraft’s first foreign buyer. Five were contracted for construction two months later at a cost of $332 million.
As late as 2018, “four or five” of the aircraft were ready for delivery, but Tokyo continued to hesitate, retired Lt. Gen. George Trautman, an adviser for Osprey manufacturer Bell Boeing, told Defense News at the time.
A unique aircraft design, the V-22’s rotors are capable of rotating to face either vertically or horizontally, enabling it to take off and land like a helicopter, but transition to plane-like flying once in the air.
However, at one point in August 2017 following a deadly Osprey crash off the coast of Australia, the Japanese government asked Washington to halt its Osprey flights over Japan – a request commanders at Okinawa’s Marine Corps Air Station Futenma declined to heed.
At the moment, the Japanese Defense Ministry is not even sure where the Ospreys will be based. Plans to base the aircraft at Saga Airport in the country’s Chiba Prefecture have been foiled by fishery owners who own property near the airport.
As a result, the planes will be temporarily based at the nearby Camp Kisarazu. The delivery comes at a time that the USMC is weighing ending the use of much of its Osprey fleet.
USMC Combat Development Command spokesperson Maj. Joshua Benson said the restructuring includes significant cuts to the Corps’ ground forces, but also its aircraft squadrons, including helicopters, V-22s and perhaps even some of its F-35’s.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point Military News 2020.