TOKYO — A fatal crash of a U.S. Marine Corps Osprey in Hawaii has renewed safety concerns in Japan, where more of the hybrid aircraft are to be deployed.
Gov. Takeshi Onaga on the southern island of Okinawa said Monday that flights of Ospreys should be suspended until the cause of the crash is found. The tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey can take off and land like a helicopter but flies like an airplane.
An Osprey caught fire after a hard landing Sunday at Bellows Air Force Station on Hawaii’s main island of Oahu, killing one Marine and sending 21 others to hospitals.
“From the (Okinawan) residents’ point of view, Osprey deployment is not acceptable to begin with,” Onaga told a televised news conference. “The significance of this crash is extremely big. We seek an adequate investigation into the cause and an explanation, and of course eventually demand the withdrawal of Ospreys.”
Onaga said he plans to demand that the U.S. military suspend all Osprey flights on Okinawa until the authorities determine the cause of the latest accident.
The U.S. military says the Osprey is safe, but Okinawans have worried that it may be prone to crashes. Anti-U.S. military sentiment is particularly high on Okinawa, home to half of the about 50,000 American troops based in Japan under a bilateral security treaty. Many complain about noise and crime linked to U.S. bases on the island.