OKINAWA, Japan - Members of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and civilian business leaders attended a U.S. Marine Corps briefing June 5 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler.
The briefing was part of ongoing efforts between the Japan and U.S. governments to strengthen their relationship and promote a mutual understanding of the capabilities provided by MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, according to U.S. Marine Maj. Joshua T. Fraser, an operations officer with Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“There’s a lot of interest in the Osprey’s operations because it is so sensitive and important to the (GOJ) and the local citizens,” said Fraser. “There’s also a lot of political interest, and this tour really strives to explain the true nature of the Osprey and further inform people, so they can make more educated opinions.”
The deployment of Ospreys to the Asia-Pacific region was originally met with skepticism and misinformation.
“We started with a seminar where we explained the operational capacities of the aircraft and told (our guests) what they could expect,” said Fraser. “Then we took them to the simulator where they were able to sit in the cockpit and fly the aircraft. They were especially interested in its unique capability to transition from a helicopter to an airplane during flight.”
The flight simulators purpose is to allow pilots to fly an Osprey and remain proficient without exacting the maintenance hours required after piloting a real one.
“Everyone really enjoyed the flight simulator,” said Takehiro Sakurai, a business leader and secretary general of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture. “Everyone learned new things today, and we feel that this aircraft is safe and a good aircraft.”
Following the simulator, the group of dignitaries toured the flightline where they were able to see the actual aircraft up close.
“I really like that the Osprey is made of high-quality materials that make it lightweight, but very strong,” said Hiroyuki Kayaba, a business leader. “This briefing has helped us understand how safe it is to fly these and all the work it takes to make them fly properly.”
Along with the tours increasing public awareness about the Osprey’s capabilities, they also serve to further the Japan-U.S. bond, forging a stronger alliance between the two nations, according to Fraser.
“We value our alliance with Japan very much, and that’s why we want to get the word out about these aircraft,” said Fraser. “By bringing these important JASDF members and VIPs here and taking the time to give them an up-close look at these amazing aircraft, we are taking the necessary steps toward a more integrated, cohesive relationship between our two nations.”