The U.S. military spent Sunday and Monday showing off its controversial Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, which is set to begin its first air operations on the Japanese mainland this week. Japan’s second highest military officer was given an orientation flight in a Marine Corps Osprey over the weekend, while hundreds of Okinawans were given a rare on-base exhibition of the MV-22 squadron at the Futenma air station.
The hybrid aircraft, which takes off like a helicopter and flies like an airplane, is becoming integral to the Marine Corps fleet and can fly farther, faster and carry more weight than the dual-rotor Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters it replaced on Okinawa last fall.
However, many Japanese have questioned the Osprey’s safety record, especially following two high-profile crashes last year. On Okinawa, protesters blocked the Futenma gates when the aircraft arrived and have held a vigil outside the base in the months since.
For the complete story by Travis J. Tritten of Stars and Stripes, click here.