Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Air Force to base Ospreys at Yokota

Air Force to base Ospreys at Yokota: The Air Force will station a squadron of CV-22 Ospreys in Japan beginning in 2017, the Defense Department announced Monday.

The first three tilt-rotor aircraft will arrive at Yokota Air Base in the second half of 2017, with another seven expected to arrive by 2021, according to the Pentagon. The Ospreys, flown by Air Force Special Operations Command, will "provide increased capability" for special operators to respond to crises in Japan.

In addition to responding to natural disasters, the aircraft will "increase interoperability" and strengthen relationships with the Japan Self-Defense Forces, the department said in a statement.

The Air Force Ospreys will join Marine Corps MV-22s already stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma near Okinawa. These Ospreys have been a point of contention with local residents, who have protested the aircraft over worries about the aircraft's noise and possible mishaps.

The Air Force also is in the midst of sending a squadron of Ospreys to Royal Air Force Mildenhall in England. The service currently has 33 of the aircraft primarily used for long-range special operations missions.