WASHINGTON – The U.S. Defense Department has yet to decide whether to deploy Osprey aircraft at the Yokota base in Tokyo, a Pentagon official said, following reports they could be moved there next year.
Deployment of the aircraft has been controversial in Japan, where some members of the public are wary of its record of deadly accidents.
“There have been no decisions made about the deployment,” the Pentagon official said Monday. “We are seeking a force posture in the Asia-Pacific that is geographically distributed, operationally focused and politically sustainable.”
He was speaking after reports that Japan and the United States are considering deploying 12 Ospreys at Yokota, possibly next July.
They would be the CV-22 variant, the version operated by the U.S. Air Force.
The U.S. and Japanese governments have attributed the accidents involving Ospreys to human error, and not design flaws.
The U.S. Navy last week reported the death of one of two personnel who jumped from an Osprey when it lost power on takeoff from a ship in the Persian Gulf.
Gen. Herbert Carlisle, commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces, indicated last year that Yokota could be a possible base for the tilt-rotor aircraft, which can take off and land like a helicopter and cruise like an airplane.
Twenty-four MV-22s, the Osprey model used by the U.S. Marine Corps, are stationed at the Futenma base in Okinawa.