MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, Japan - The purpose of the visit was to familiarize Sugiyama and JASDF supporters with MCAS Futenma’s role in supporting the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and the Ospreys operated by Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st MAW.
“(The visit helps) contribute to good U.S.-Japan relations by showing MCAS Futenma to (supporters) who have various backgrounds and play key roles in their organizations,” said Sugiyama, the commanding general of the JASDF’s Southwestern Composite Air Division based out of Naha, Okinawa.
The tour began with a short briefing about the installation’s capabilities, which support 1st MAW operations, followed by a windshield tour of the air station and flight line. After a briefing on the operational capabilities of the Osprey, the visitors were able to tour a static display of the aircraft.
As the JASDF awaits its order of Ospreys over the next five years, visits like this are essential in bolstering confidence in the Osprey’s capabilities, according to U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Steven R. Rudder, commanding general of 1st MAW.
“What the general wanted to do was connect what we do on Okinawa, in particular here on MCAS Futenma, with some of Japan’s industry leaders and really expose them to not only the aircraft, the MV-22, but also to the mission,” said Rudder. “The mission of the Marine Corps in the Pacific is to support the U.S. and Japan alliance by providing for the mutual defense, security and humanitarian (aid)/disaster relief efforts of Japan and our Pacific allies.”
The Osprey would be a great advantage in regard to humanitarian efforts in Japan, according to Sugiyama.
“The high performance of the Osprey should be suitable for humanitarian (aid)/disaster relief operations,” said Sugiyama. “The Osprey would play an important role in case of not only natural disasters, but also emergency patient transportation from remote islands.”
The Osprey is capable of carrying approximately 20,000 pounds of internal cargo or 15,000 pounds externally, at about twice the speed of an average rotary-wing aircraft and can travel farther distances.
As the JASDF readies for its next steps in aviation, the Marines and sailors with 1st MAW will maintain the strong military alliance and partnership while showcasing how the Osprey will support operations and efforts in the Pacific, according to Rudder.
“We’re going to continue to operate the Osprey in the same manner we have,” said Rudder. “Operation Damayan was just one example of what this aircraft brings to the Pacific. As we enter the New Year, we are going to continue to extend the reach, try new things, and stay cognizant of our alliances around the Pacific.”