Yokota said candidate for Ospreys

Kadena is also seen in running; Suga says Tokyo unaware of plan

Kyodo

Gen. Herbert Carlisle, commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces, indicated Monday that besides the Kadena base in Okinawa, Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo is a possible candidate site to host CV-22 Osprey transport aircraft.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, Carlisle said discussions on the deployment are under way with the Japanese government and the final decision will probably be made early next year, with deployment possibly as soon as 2015.

If realized, this will be the first stationing of Ospreys outside of Okinawa. The CV-22 is the air force variant of the U.S. Marine Corps MV-22. An MV-22 squadron has been deployed to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa since last year, despite local opposition.

“There’s some issues with Kadena and Okinawa,” Carlisle said, citing the recent Upper House election in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party scored a decisive victory, and Abe’s “approach to things.”

Carlisle added that the U.S. hopes to work with the government of Japan to pursue the most prudent course toward accomplishing its goals.

“There’s a potential of moving into Yokota,” and Yokota and Kadena are “the two prime candidates,” he said of the possible CV-22 deployments.

A freighter carrying 12 MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft arrived Tuesday at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture, prior to their deployment to Futenma in early August.

The 12 Ospreys, which can take off and land like a helicopter and fly like an airplane, along with another 12 already deployed to the Futenma base will replace aging CH-46 helicopters.

Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, however, has repeatedly called for canceling their deployment in his prefecture, which already hosts the bulk of U.S. military installations in Japan, in part due to past crashes abroad involving the aircraft.

The aircraft have been seen flying in vertical takeoff and landing mode over urban areas in Okinawa, allegedly in violation of a Japan-U.S agreement that stipulates that flights in that mode should be limited to within the boundaries of U.S. military facilities and areas, “except as operationally necessary.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo will work closely with Washington to ensure safe operations, acknowledging the concerns of people in Okinawa.

“We will hold necessary consultations with the U.S. side so they carry out operations properly” in accordance with a bilateral agreement on Osprey operations.

Suga meanwhile noted that Tokyo has not heard about the U.S. plan to deploy the CV-22, a day after Gen. Carlisle indicated the Yokota Air Base in Tokyo is a possible host besides the Kadena base in Okinawa.

The CV-22 is used by the air force for special operations. While it shares basic features with the MV-22, the CV-22 is said to be used more often under tougher conditions, including low-altitude flights.

In June last year, crew members were injured when a CV-22 crashed in Florida. Okinawa has taken the position that it prefers not to accommodate the aircraft.

Carlisle also indicated that Global Hawk drones currently deployed to Guam will be moved temporarily to Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture next year.

“We’ve looked at moving them up to Misawa because of the weather,” he said, adding that U.S. is still discussing the situation with Japan.

The plan is to move the drones next year during Guam’s summer typhoon season, when adverse weather can affect their operations, Carlisle said.

  • Yoshio Shimoji

    Negotiations are going on about whether CV-22 Ospreys will be deployed at Yokota Air Base or Kadena? There are two possibilities for this: Either Japanese politicians and bureaucrats will accept the Yokota plan across the board or cajole Washington into sticking to the Kadena plan.

    If the former, it will be the “Okinawanization” of mainland Japan. The mainlanders will then realize to the bone that Japan is not a sovereign state but a vassal of the United States.

    If the latter, who knows what will happen?

    Either way, it’s more than apparent that Japan is not an independent sovereignty but a disdainful, half-independent nation always tail-wagging to the great United States.

    • Edward

      Shimoji-San,
      Please help me understand how adding a squadron of perhaps about 10 CV-22s to Yokota will cause “Okinawazation”.

    • ff

      The US and Japan are allies. We help each other out. Japan is very much a sovereign nation, and if they wanted all US forces gone, we would leave. Look at the Philippines, a nation that was once ruled by the USA. They asked us to remove all US forces in 1992, and we did. To this day we continue to be close allies.

  • Yoshio Shimoji

    Edward-san,

    An air-squadron coming to Yokota with 12 CV-22 Ospreys and about 200 personnel may be too small for mainland Japan to be characterized as “Okinawanization.” But I am sure the USAFJ will set up their own maneuvering flight routes for the Ospreys all over Japan just like the Marines, thus causing the mainlanders to feel an occupation complex quite similar to what we feel here in Okinawa.

    It is reported that the CV-22 Ospreys’ maneuvering tactics is more dangerous than the MV-22 Ospreys.