Ospreys baited the government

As for the Sept. 30/Oct. 1 editorial, “Spreading worries about Osprey“: Despite Okinawa’s vehement opposition to the deployment of tilt-rotor Ospreys at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, it was reported that Tokyo was considering buying the aircraft for the Self-Defense Forces (Ryukyu Shimpo, Oct. 31, 2012).

The Foreign Ministry, which normally has nothing to do with defense matters, was said to be most eager to buy them. Did U.S. government authorities bait the Foreign Ministry after finding Japan’s Defense Ministry too reluctant to bite? The Foreign Ministry often acts as if it were the branch office of the U.S. State Department in such matters as Okinawa’s military bases.

There seem to be two reasons why the U.S. government is trying hard to sell Ospreys to Japan. One has something to do with the business-mindedness of the U.S. military-industrial complex. Each Osprey is said to cost nearly $100 million. So, if the U.S. government could sell a dozen or more Ospreys to Japan, it would recover more than $1.2 billion of the $35.7 billion program cost.

The second reason is to mitigate the Japanese public’s fear of Ospreys and their planned low-altitude flight training over the length and breadth of mainland Japan. It’s noteworthy that such training cannot be conducted on tiny Okinawa because it lacks the wide land area needed for training.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Osprey maneuvers over mainland Japan are necessary to alleviate Okinawa’s burdens, but does he know the facts of the Osprey?

The government lists the Osprey’s specs as reason to buy it: speed of 520 km/hour and maximum loading weight of 9.1 tons. Yet, the Chinese are reported to be developing their own version of a tilt-rotor aircraft that will fly 700 km/hour with a maximum loading weight of 30 tons.

yoshio shimoji
naha

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • Starviking

    There are a few issues with this letter.

    “Each Osprey is said to cost nearly $100 million. So, if the U.S. government could sell a dozen or more Ospreys to Japan, it would recover more than $1.2 billion of the $35.7 billion program cost.”

    No. You are forgetting the costs of work and materials in building these Opspreys. These have to be covered too. The US will not recover anywhere near the amount you suggest from the program cost.

    “It’s noteworthy that such training cannot be conducted on tiny Okinawa because it lacks the wide land area needed for training.”

    Not really noteworthy: training is different from use. For example, school baseball teams rarely train in baseball stadiums, even though that is the goal of their training. They are more often encountered running at the roadside, or practicing on school sports grounds.

    “The government lists the Osprey’s specs as reason to buy it: speed of 520 km/hour and maximum loading weight of 9.1 tons. Yet, the Chinese are reported to be developing their own version of a tilt-rotor aircraft that will fly 700 km/hour with a maximum loading weight of 30 tons.”
    Actually, the Chinese Helicopter Research and Development Institute state that the Blue Whale tilt-rotor will have a 20 ton payload and cruise at 538 km/hr. Newspapers have reported a maximum speed of 700 km/hr, which might be possible – as the aircraft it seems based on, the American Curtis-Wright X-19, did so in the 1960s.
    And once again we have to ask “so-what?”. The US took almost 20 years to deploy the Osprey from program start. Why should Japan wish to wait until the 2030s to try and buy a Chinese aircraft, one they would not likely sell to Japan? That’s if the aircraft flys at all.