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Japan picks MV-22 Osprey for tilt-rotor aircraft purchase

An MV-22 Osprey launches from the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island, while underway in the Pacific Ocean, Aug. 16, 2014.

CHRISTOPHER LINDAHL/U.S. NAVY

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 21, 2014

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japan’s Defense Ministry announced Friday it has selected the Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey when they start procuring a helicopter-to-plane hybrid in fiscal 2015.

In July, Japan unveiled its five-year midterm National Defense Program Guidelines for fiscal 2014 and beyond, which included adding as many as 17 tilt-rotor aircraft by fiscal 2018. The guidelines said other aircraft were under consideration, but almost all of the alternative tilt-rotor platforms are still under development.

Used widely in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Marine Corps has flown Ospreys throughout Japan since September 2012, when they arrived — amid concerns over the aircraft’s safety record — to replace the CH-46E Sea Knight assault support helicopter.

There have been no incidents during that time, but the helicopter continues to be assailed by protesters on the southern island of Okinawa who oppose war, U.S. bases, Japan’s central government and perceived environmental threats.

Due to its increased capacity, speed and versatility, the Osprey has been called essential to the defense of Japan and in disaster relief operations.

The ministry also chose to add the Northrop Grumman E-2D early-warning and control aircraft and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle.

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