By Fred Vergnères
The delivery of the first two V-22 Ospreys for the Japan Ground Self Defence Force – JGSDF – was completed on May 8 at the US Marine Corps air base in Iwakuni, near Hiroshima city. This delivery marks an important milestone for Japan, which remains the only known export customer for the aircraft.
In July 2015, the Nippon archipelago signed a contract for the acquisition of five machines for a total of $332 million. The acquisition of this tilt-rotor helicopter is part of the modernization of the Japanese armies as a whole, and in particular for troop transport missions, evacuation of victims, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Nevertheless, the deployment of the Osprey has sparked a lively debate in Japan about the reliability of the aircraft and the accidents that occurred at the beginning of its career. The mistrust of the people of Saga, who were originally intended to house the aircraft at the local air base, would have forced the government to revise its plans and base the aircraft initially at Camp Kisarazu in southeast Tokyo.
However, according to the statement, part of the V-22 fleet will be stationed on the new 195,000-ton Izumo class helicopter carrier. The Ministry of Defence also said it would deploy a number of aircraft to the East China Sea.