A fleet of US Osprey military aircraft arrived in western Japan on commercial cargo ship Green Ridge, amid local government opposition on Monday, The Nikkei reports.
The 12-plane squadron will be deployed at the US Marine Corps’ Iwakuni Air Station. The tilt-rotor aircraft are set for test flights before full flight operations in October. The Osprey fleet deployment is a step forward in US plans to deploy the MV-22 transport aircraft at the Marines’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa.
However, local opposition against the planes arose due to safety concerns following two recent crashes abroad. Iwakuni Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda told reporters that he will lodge a protest against the central government for allowing the US deployment plan. ‘We have been urging that it not be allowed into the port until safety is confirmed,” Mr. Fukuda told The Nikkei. “We feel distrust and indignation that (our message) did not reach the state.”
A US F-16 fighter jet enroute to North America crashed in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday after it took off from the Misawa Air Base. According to a spokeswoman, efforts are underway to rescue the pilot, Asahi Shimbun reports.