Carter: U.S. to Work with Japan on Osprey Analysis
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
TOKYO, Jul. 21, 2012 Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter answered a barrage of questions on the V-22 Osprey during a press conference with Japanese media representatives here today.
U.S. defense leaders plan to introduce the Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft, into service supporting Japan-based Marine Corps operations later this year. Full operational capability is currently set for October, but several Japanese leaders have notified the central government of their reservations about the aircraft’s safety.
Reporters cited two recent crashes -- one in Morocco in April, which killed two people, and another in June that happened in Florida and injured five people -- as cause to delay operating the aircraft in Japan.
The first 12 Ospreys intended for use in Japan are now loaded on cargo ships and heading for Iwakuni, a Japanese port city that is also the site of a U.S. Marine station.
Reporters’ questions today focused on whether the United States will stick to the October timeline, despite the concerns of several Japanese leaders and some residents of Iwakuni and Okinawa.
“The Osprey is an important capability; it’s going to make an important new contribution to deterrence and to the deterrent capabilities of the alliance,” Carter said. “And it’s an aircraft that we are flying … the world over.”
The deputy secretary added that as DOD’s chief management officer, “The safety of aircraft is a great concern to me, and a great responsibility of mine.”
He said he understands that aircraft safety is also extremely important to the government and people of Japan.
“I think that’s entirely appropriate,” Carter said. “And we are committed to providing your airworthiness experts with all of the data and all of the information about the entire flight history of the V-22, including the two recent incidents, and allowing them to analyze that data and take every step they need to make to reconfirm the airworthiness of that airplane.”
The U.S. and Japanese governments have agreed that flight operations will not begin until that reconfirmation has taken place, Carter said.
“This is a process, a technical process of assessing airworthiness,” he said. “I think you have to let the experts do their work, have their access to their data, and so forth.”
The two governments routinely work together to address airworthiness issues, the deputy secretary noted.
“It’s a normal part of the process of confirming flight safety of aircraft of all types,” Carter said. “So it’s something that is totally understood by Japanese experts as it is by our experts.”
Carter said addressing Japanese concerns over the Osprey’s safety is an issue the two governments will solve together.
“That’s what longstanding, trusting allies that are democracies -- this is how they work things through,” the deputy secretary said. He added, “And, you know, we’re going to resolve it. That’s the whole point.”