The Defense Ministry plans to earmark funds in the draft fiscal 2013 budget to study whether the Self-Defense Forces should procure the U.S. Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft, senior ministry officials said.
Efforts to introduce the Osprey into the SDF inventory will probably gain momentum under hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who plans to boost defense spending and upgrade equipment in light of China’s growing military might.
The acquisition study comes amid public opposition to the deployment of MV-22 Ospreys at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa. Communities there are concerned about the safety of the hybrid aircraft because of several crashes that occurred in its development stage and recently during training flights.
The ministry will also look into how much it costs to maintain Ospreys.