A Navy CMV-22B Osprey makes a functional check flight at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., on March 19, 2024.

A Navy CMV-22B Osprey makes a functional check flight at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., on March 19, 2024. (Aron Montano/U.S. Navy)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The U.S. Navy has resumed some Osprey operations on Okinawa, three months after a ban on flying the U.S. military’s tiltrotors was lifted, according to Japanese officials.

One of the Navy’s helicopter-plane hybrids flew over Kadena Air Base on Monday afternoon, a spokesman for the Okinawa Defense Bureau told Stars and Stripes by phone Wednesday.

“This was the first time that a CMV-22 stationed at Kadena Air Base was confirmed flying after they grounded it last year,” the spokesman said.

The bureau represents the Japan Defense Ministry on Okinawa.

The U.S. military grounded its fleet of about 400 Ospreys between Dec. 6 and March 8 as it investigated the Nov. 29 crash of an Air Force CV-22 Osprey that killed eight airmen off Japan’s southern coast.

The Osprey fleet will not be permitted to fly its full range of missions until mid-2025, the leader of the aircraft program told House lawmakers on Wednesday.

“I will not certify the V-22 to return to unrestricted flight operations until I am satisfied that we have sufficiently addressed the issues that may affect the safety of the aircraft,” Vice Adm. Carl Chebi, who leads Naval Air Systems Command, told a subpanel of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability.

The Marine Corps on March 14 reported it had resumed MV-22 Osprey flights on Okinawa, but other services have been slower to return their aircraft to flight. The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force resumed flying its Osprey fleet a week later.

Air Force Special Operations Command, whose tiltrotor crashed in southern Japan, has yet to resume flying its aircraft stationed in the country. Navy Ospreys are not yet flying passengers to aircraft flight decks, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

The CMV-22 is designed to replace the Navy’s C-2A Greyhound aircraft, first produced in 1965, to land cargo and people on aircraft carriers.

Navy officials in Japan referred questions about Monday’s flight to Naval Air Forces in San Diego. A spokeswoman for the command, Cmdr. Beth Teach, said by email Wednesday she was working on a response.

The Navy doesn’t provide Japanese officials with prior notice of flights, the Okinawa Defense Bureau spokesman said. Japanese government officials often speak to the media on condition of anonymity.

Japanese officials didn’t confirm any CMV-22 flights over Okinawa on Tuesday, the spokesman said.

Okinawa prefecture’s Base Countermeasures Division posted about the Osprey flight on its X account Wednesday.

“A CMV-22 Osprey flew from Kadena Air Base,” the post said. “The prefecture filed a request to Okinawa Defense Bureau today to stop flying the Ospreys until the reasons of the [Nov. 29] accident become clear.”

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Keishi Koja is an Okinawa-based reporter/translator who joined Stars and Stripes in August 2022. He studied International Communication at the University of Okinawa and previously worked in education.
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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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