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NEWS | Dec. 18, 2014

Experiencing a Ride on the Marine Corps Osprey Firsthand

By Shimabukuro Yoshikazu III Marine Expeditionary Force / Marine Corps Installations Pacific

NAGO, Japan - "I would like to describe the experience we had recently with flying in the MV-22B Osprey from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to northern Okinawa over water and around Ie Shima island before returning to the MCAS Futenma.

The first thing I realized was how wrong the media and others were wrong about the Osprey being dangerous.

All of those riding on the aircraft felt it was not only quiet but safe as well. We were all of the same opinion. Indeed, it was such a comfortable ride that one or two members of the group actually fell asleep. If it was dangerous and noisy, it would be difficult to imagine someone falling asleep.

It is very important that as many people as possible within Okinawa Prefecture know the Osprey represents state of the art technology and is a safe aircraft.

The security environment facing Japan is worsening. The Marine Corps, which is the main strength of U.S. deterrence in the region, has historically had to rely on its movement, in part, through the use of the medium-lift CH-46 helicopter. Since 2012, however, the Marine Corps has gradually introduced the vertical lift tiltrotor MV-22B Osprey into its forward-deployed forces to replace the outmoded CH-46s.

The MV-22B not only takes off and lands like a helicopter but can fly at least twice the speed of the CH-46 and four times the distance. It can go 650 km on one tank of gas, and 1100 km or more when refueled aerially. The range of the MV-22s allows for the Marine Corps to operate in a much wider area in Northeast Asia, thus increasing the level of deterrence provided by U.S. forward-deployed forces.

It is necessary to reaffirm the importance of the U.S. Marine Corps presence, and for the Okinawan public to truly understand it.

Our country is a country made up of many islands. Okinawa is a prefecture also made up of many islands. What’s more, the Okinawa is in a critically important location geostrategically.

Japan is also a country with many natural disasters, as is the prefecture. In light of these factors, I believe the Osprey will become increasingly important in the months and years to come. To increase the people’s understanding of this aircraft, it will be invaluable to give them the opportunity to ride on it.

Through this experience, I have become a fan of the Osprey, and look forward to supporting its usage in [Japan-U.S. alliance operations].

On behalf of all of us local leaders and citizens who flew on the Osprey, I would like to thank the Marine Corps for this unique and meaningful opportunity, especially Dr. Robert D. Eldridge, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-7, Marine Corps Installations Pacific."

Mr. Shimabukuro served as Mayor of Nago City from 2006-2010, and now is the special advisor to the Northern Region Development Council, headquartered in Nago.

For photos from the Nago business leader's Osprey flight, please visit: http://www.dvidshub.net/image/1617562/nago-city-officials-japanese-media-experience-ospreys-capabilities

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