Okinawans file protest over plans to station Ospreys on island
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Okinawa lawmakers filed a formal protest Friday with the U.S. military and embassy consulate over plans to upgrade aging Marine Corps helicopter fleets here with tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft.
The island’s prefectural assembly said the newly developed Osprey is “dangerous” and “defective” and would increase problems with noise at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, where they are slated to replace Vietnam-era Sea Stallion helicopters beginning in 2012 or 2013 as part of a servicewide overhaul.
A resolution unanimously passed by 48 assembly members asking the U.S. to abandon the Osprey plans was delivered to the consulate in Naha and Camp Foster on Friday afternoon.
The Osprey, which can take off like a helicopter and fly like an airplane, had a rocky development period in the 1990s that included at least two deadly crashes. But according to Navy Air Systems Command and the Navy Safety Center, it has racked up the lowest number of severe aviation mishaps of any Marine Corps aircraft in the past 10 years and recently passed 100,000 hours of flight time after being deployed to Iraq in 2007 and later to Afghanistan.