MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, JAPAN- Two MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft landed at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Aug. 3.
The aircraft, part of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, were shipped from San Diego to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, where they performed various system checks before flying to Okinawa.
The long-anticipated event was witnessed by Brig. Gen. Steven R. Rudder, commanding general of 1st MAW, and Col. James G. Flynn, commanding officer of MCAS Futenma. The leaders observed the arrival of the aircraft from the flight line and spoke about the significance of the event.
“Today marks an important milestone for MCAS Futenma and the Marines and community around Futenma,” said Flynn. “Its ability to respond to crises here in the Asia-Pacific region, whether it is a contingency, humanitarian or natural disaster, will be a huge benefit for both (Japan and the U.S.).”
The MV-22s will continue replacing the aging CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters on a one-for-one basis, according to Rudder.
“I have worked with the MV-22 program since 2007 when they were deployed to Iraq for the first time, and I flew them myself in Iraq,” said Rudder. “During that timeframe the Marine Corps realized, and the nation realized, the capabilities of the airplane.
“This aircraft flies twice as fast, carries three times as much, and goes four times as far,” said Rudder.
During his remarks, Flynn emphasized the safety of the aircraft, which has amassed more than 147,000 hours of flight time worldwide.
The aircraft is one of the safest aircraft and the most modern in the Marine Corps’ inventory, according to Flynn.
“(The MV-22) has been proven around the world, certainly in operations overseas and in the region here with our current squadron,” said Flynn. “It has traveled to the Republic of Korea, Japan, Republic of the Philippines, Kingdom of Thailand and Australia and conducted operations safely.”
Rudder expects that the aircraft’s unique capabilities will help the U.S. build upon existing relationships in the region.
“We are going to be able to strengthen our U.S.-Japan alliance, which is the strongest it has been in 50 years, in my estimation; and we are going to be able to enhance our defense of Japan and enhance our humanitarian and disaster relief operations,” said Rudder.
“As the newest commanding general of 1st MAW, I would like to say thank you to those Okinawa neighbors that have supported us throughout the many years of Marines being here,” he added.