Of the CV-22 Osprey flights that were witnessed flying over residential areas in the year starting at the end of June 2018, 30 were found to have been flying with their machine guns visible from the outside, with seven such sightings that took place in just a month.
US Air Force’s CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft deployed to Yokota Air Base (AB) in western Tokyo have frequently been seen flying with machine guns facing outward toward residential areas by local residents and others.
The civic group Hamura Heiwa Iinkai — or Hamura Peace Committee — based in the Tokyo suburb of Hamura, confirmed a total of around 40 aircraft flying in such a position for over a year starting June 2018, Mainichi Shimbun reports. Even though it is possible to hide the machine gun from the outside, such flights have taken place even this year, angering local residents who say, “We cannot tolerate such flights, in which they conduct training pretending that our neighborhoods are targets, and therefore instilling fear in us.”
The CV-22 Osprey tiltrotors were officially deployed to Yokota base in October 2018.
Hamura Peace Committee that monitored activities before and after the Ospreys were deployed to Yokota, noted that of the CV-22s that were witnessed flying over residential areas in the year starting at the end of June 2018, 30 were found to have been flying with their machine guns visible from the outside, with seven such sightings that took place in just a month.
Once Two special operations Osprey squadrons (the 21st Special Operations Squadron and the 753rd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron stood up at Yokota AB) on Jul. 1, 2019, the number of the sightings became even more frequent. Between Jul. 3 and 11, a total of nine such flights were confirmed.
“We must not allow (the US military) to use the skies above our residential areas as training grounds, and our neighborhoods as targets,” The Hamura committee’s chief, Mieko Takahashi, 79, said. He’s also concerned about low-altitude flights, which create significant noise, and late-night flights.
To questions from the Mainichi Shimbun, US Forces Japan did not reveal details on the purpose of the flights, but responded in writing, “the regular flying configuration for the CV-22 Osprey does include a weapon secured at the rear of the plane in a safe position with no ammunition. All our air operations are conducted in accordance with the relevant agreements and regulations between the United States government and the Government of Japan. We make every effort to minimize our impact to local communities while ensuring we maintain proficiency in our flight operations for the defense of Japan.”
The CV-22 is the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) variant of the US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey.
The CV-22’s mission is to conduct long-range infiltration, exfiltration and resupply missions for special operations forces. Like the MV-22 Osprey, the CV-22 is a tiltrotor aircraft that combines the vertical takeoff, hover, and vertical landing qualities of a helicopter with the long-range, fuel efficiency and speed characteristics of a turboprop aircraft. Those capabilities give this versatile, self-deployable aircraft the capability to conduct missions that would normally require both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.
The CV-22 is equipped with integrated threat countermeasures, terrain-following radar, forward-looking infrared sensor, and other advanced avionics systems that allow it to operate at low altitude in adverse weather conditions and medium- to high-threat environments.
Photo credit: Airwolfhound from Hertfordshire, UK via Wikipedia