Pentagon to station V-22 Ospreys at air base near Tokyo | Reuters
WASHINGTON May 11 The Pentagon said on Monday it planned to station a squadron of tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey aircraft at the Yokota Air Base in Japan to enable U.S. special operations troops to respond quickly to crises in the Asia-Pacific region.
The first three Air Force variants of the V-22 will arrive at the U.S. base on the outskirts of Tokyo in the last half of 2017, with an additional seven due to arrive by 2021, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The Osprey, which takes off like a helicopter and then rotates its propellers to fly like a plane, obtained a reputation for technical difficulties and safety problems during its development phase in the 1990s. Since then it has largely overcome the issues, but crashes during training exercises in Morocco and Florida in early 2012 exacerbated Japanese concerns about the planes.
The Pentagon said the Ospreys in Yokota will enable U.S. special forces troops to respond quickly to disasters and other crises in Japan and the broader Asia-Pacific region as part of the U.S. strategic rebalance to the region.
Some in Japan have opposed use of the V-22 due to safety concerns. The Marine Corps move to replace its Sea Knight helicopters at Futenma air base in Okinawa with V-22 Ospreys in 2012 prompted a public outcry on the island as well as in communities in mainland Japan that host U.S. bases.
The Defense Secretary at the time, Leon Panetta, helped secure a decision to permit flights of the aircraft over Japan in S....