5-Aug-2014 Source: US Marine Corps
Senior military leaders with the U.S. and Japan met with Ogasawara village officials July 28 on Chichi Jima, Japan, to discuss the benefits of the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft for the people of Japan.
The minister of defense for Japan, members of his staff and U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. John Wissler along with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force officials arrived on the remote island via Osprey to demonstrate the far-reaching and quick response capabilities of the aircraft in the event of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.
“We were welcomed with a large banner that said ‘Ospreys, welcome to Chichi Jima’ once we arrived,” said U.S. Marine Maj. Benjamin J. Debardeleben, the executive officer of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “They were very excited to see the reach the (Ospreys) provide. They can give them assistance in the case a tsunami, typhoon or any type of emergency.”
The Osprey has been designed to the most stringent safety, reliability, readiness, all-weather operations, survivability, crash worthiness, and performance requirements of any rotary wing aircraft ever built, according to the V-22 Osprey Guidebook. Its large payload capacity over long distances positions it to support numerous missions worldwide.
“The Ogasawara Islands actually do not have any airports or runways,” said Itsunori Onodera, the minister of defense. “If we try to transfer patients by ship, it will take 25 hours. (However), if we can use something like the Osprey, which I flew in today, for transporting emergency patients, we can transfer them within two to three hours from the Ogasawara Islands to the helipads at the hospitals on mainland Japan.”
The Osprey’s mission radius is 600 nautical miles, fully loaded. Its maximum cruise speed is 443 kilometers per hour, and the aircraft is capable of traveling from Okinawa to Tokyo, approximately 1,500 kilometers apart, in 3 hours and 45 minutes.
“This means we can save more lives,” said Odonera. “We believe that this is important to have such equipment for life-saving purposes and in the event of a disaster.”
The aircraft received praise and admiration for its unique design and unlimited potential from dignitaries from both nations.
“It can fly farther, it can fly faster and it can carry more,” said U.S. Marine Maj. Giuseppe A. Stavale, a Japan foreign area officer and law enforcement integration and antiterrorism force protection officer with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 1, 1st MAW, III MEF. “When you look at the Japan archipelago, you can see that it has many islands that are a part of the four main islands of Japan. Those smaller islands may not have the resources or the level of care that Japan has on the mainland, so those levels of resources, or those gaps in the resources, are exacerbated when a storm happens or some other kind of natural disaster.”
Much of the Japanese island populous are dependent on the abilities of the Japan Self-Defense Force to assist during evacuations or bring aid during times of distress, according to Stavale, a Cincinnati, Ohio, native. New defense program guidelines announced by the government of Japan note that they will purchase the aircraft and base them at Saga prefecture. This new capability will dramatically change the reaction time for JSDF personnel when responding to HADR events.
“We as the Ministry of Defense, would like to plan to include the purchase of Ospreys in our next year’s budget,” said Odonera. “We haven’t come to our final decision on the models yet and we will consider the number of aircraft to purchase by the end of next month because we have to estimate our budget by then.”