FUTENMA, Okinawa - Members of the Okinawa Defense Bureau and Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Jan. 28 to experience flight operations in an MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft via flight simulator.
Visits like these create opportunities to improve communication and build upon already existing relationships between the Marine Corps and its host nation.
“These visits allow us the opportunity to share what our capabilities and missions are on Futenma,” said Col. James G. Flynn, the commanding officer of MCAS Futenma, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific.
“(It also) allows us to reinforce that we are in support of the alliance and that we are conducting operations here safely.”
Having the opportunity to practice flying the Osprey, even if only in a simulator, allowed the officials to see the importance of the aircraft and the high-quality training the pilots experience, according to Maj. John P. Arnold, the current operations officer with Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“It is important for the ambassador and local officials from both Okinawa and mainland Japan to see our simulators,” said Arnold. “We can set any environment or condition in the simulator, which allows us to show them how safe this aircraft is.”
In addition to sharing the missions and capabilities originating on Futenma, the officials were briefed on the safety measures taken before going into an operation, according to Toshihiko Matsumoto, the deputy director general with the Okinawa Defense Bureau.
“I was very impressed with the Marine Corps’ (initiative) to operate the aircraft safely,” said Matsumoto.
Each visitor sat in the pilot’s seat of the simulator and conducted his or her own flight mission.
“I think they all did a great job in the simulator,” said Arnold. “They all flew for a while without me having to do anything. Hopefully, now that they have had this (experience) they will be more comfortable with Osprey (operations).”
That afternoon, the officials parted ways with an increased awareness of the capabilities and importance of the Osprey, as well as the safety measures put into a flight mission, according to Flynn.
“Visits such as this show that we are exercising flight operations here at Futenma in accordance with local procedures,” said Flynn. “We want to show that we are concerned with how we operate and how it is perceived by the local community members of Okinawa.
“I think the officials walked away from this with a better understanding of how we operate,” Flynn explained. “They will also have a better appreciation (for the aircraft) by seeing firsthand, through the simulator, how professional our air crews are conducting themselves.”