Air Force gives Japanese reporters closeup look at Yokota’s Ospreys
By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 3, 2018
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Japanese reporters got a closeup look at one of five Air Force CV-22 Ospreys at the home of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo on Wednesday.
The journalists were allowed to take photos and video and clamber inside the tiltrotor aircraft in a hangar before a short question-and-answer session with Air Force Maj. Buckley Kozlowski, commander of Detachment 1, 353rd Special Operations Group.
The locals wanted to know technical details about the CV-22s, which arrived at Yokota in spring but departed for training outside Japan over summer and officially began their tenure at the base Monday.
There have been regular protests near the base this year by activists concerned about noise and safety issues that may be associated with the helicopter-plane hybrids.
In February, the commander of one of Okinawa’s two Marine Corps Osprey squadrons was fired, about six months after a crash off Australia’s eastern coast killed three Marines.
Kozlowski told the reporters that the CV-22 is an “extremely safe aircraft.” The airmen who fly and maintain it are highly trained and skilled at accomplishing missions while keeping safety a priority, he said.
“Yokota is the primary Western Pacific airlift hub for peacetime and contingency operations,” he said. “Forward-basing the CV-22 at Yokota Air Base provides increased capability for the defense of Japan as well as capability for disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.”
Members of the unit were happy to see long lines of locals lining up to see and learn about the aircraft during Yokota’s recent Japanese-American Friendship Festival, Kozlowski said.
Reporters wanted to know about the unit operating the CV-22s and what sort of activities they’d be involved in. Officials didn’t provide detailed information about plans for the Ospreys.
“All of our tactical training is conducted at approved locations coordinated between the U.S. government and the government of Japan,” Kozlowski said. “The training we conduct is done with an eye towards maximizing safety.”
Ten CV-22s will eventually be assigned to Yokota. The timeline for that to happen will be coordinated between the U.S. and Japanese governments, he added.