NAHA, OKINAWA PREF./SENDAI – Two emergency landings, one involving a U.S. Marine Corps Osprey and the other a fighter jet, took place Tuesday on an island in Okinawa and in northeast Japan, the Defense Ministry’s regional bureaus said Wednesday, but no injuries were reported.
According to the Okinawa defense bureau, the Osprey, based at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, touched down at the U.S. airfield on Ie Island Tuesday night after a cockpit warning light came on.
The U.S. military explained that the landing was a preventive measure and said the tilt-rotor aircraft left the airfield at about 2 p.m. Wednesday and returned to base, the bureau said.
The other emergency landing on Tuesday involved three F/A-18 fighter jets that landed at the Air Self-Defense Force’s Matsushima base in Miyagi Prefecture at around 1:45 p.m. after one of them developed engine trouble.
The fighters were heading to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture from Alaska, the Tohoku defense bureau said.
Tuesday’s emergency landings are the latest actions to draw criticism from Okinawans frustrated with accidents and crimes linked to the U.S. base presence there over the years.
Noting that a U.S. chopper made an emergency landing in June on a different island in Okinawa, Kiichiro Jahana of the Okinawa Prefectural Government said at a news conference that concern had grown over the consecutive incidents.
“It’s extremely deplorable we’ve seen these things occur one after another,” Jahana said.
The use of Ospreys, which take off and land like helicopters but can fly like airplanes, has provoked Okinawa residents resentful of their noise and checkered safety history overseas. Concerns over the newly arrived aircraft were heightened after one ditched off Okinawa in December.
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