Japan ready to maintain Marine Ospreys east of Tokyo
TOKYO — A Japanese contractor is ready to maintain the Marine Corps’ Osprey fleet in Chiba Prefecture, far from the political tensions that surround the aircraft’s operations on the island of Okinawa.
Fuji Heavy Industries was scheduled to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday to open the maintenance hangars at the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Camp Kisarazu, about an hour’s drive from central Tokyo on the Chiba peninsula.
The Ospreys are expected to receive overhauls lasting up to four months, said a spokesman for the Defense Ministry’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency.
Both the Marines and Japan — which plans to acquire 17 Ospreys beginning in 2018 — value the aircraft’s range and lift capabilities. It can carry Marines “twice as fast and five times farther than previous helicopters,” said a service fact sheet.
However, concerns over the safety of the Osprey, which can be flown as a helicopter with its tilt rotors or as a fixed-wing plane, have made it a symbol for demonstrators protesting the U.S. military presence in Okinawa.
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