Japan, US gradually resume Osprey operations in coordinated effort 

U.S. Marine Corps photo

Following the removal of the suspension of Osprey operations on March 8, 2024, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) and the US military have announced plans to gradually resume flights in a coordinated manner in Japan. 

Each military unit will resume Osprey operations based on mission requirements and safety measures. The restoration process will involve staged maintenance, training, and proficiency assessments. 

“Going forward, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Ospreys and the US military’s Ospreys in Japan plan to restore their mission capabilities in stages,” the Japanese Ministry of Defense said in a statement on March 13, 2024. “Specifically, we will first carry out maintenance and training as indicated as safety measures to prevent a recurrence of the recent accident.” 

Flights will then be gradually reintroduced under the unit commanders’ discretion, the ministry explained, with priority given to aircraft that have completed necessary preparations including maintenance. 

On March 14, 2024, the USMC 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, based at Futenma Air Station on Okinawa Island, announced the return of its MV-22s to flight status.  

“We will thoughtfully regain currency of our pilots and aircrew as we return to MV-22 flight operations,” stated Major General Eric Austin, commander of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. “The MV-22 Osprey is key to the success of 1st MAW, III MEF and plays a central role in our ability to campaign, to respond in time of crisis and ultimately to partner with our allies and maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.” 

End of a three-month grounding 

The entire tiltrotor aircraft fleet has been grounded since early December 2023 following two fatal crashes. The first crash took place on August 27, 2023, during a military exercise in Northern Australia, causing the death of three US Marine Corps service members. The second incident happened on November 29, 2023, off the coast of Yakushima Island in southwestern Japan, leading to the loss of eight US Marines. 

Initial investigations into the latest crash in Japan indicated that a component of the V-22 aircraft had failed, resulting in the grounding of the US Air Force Special Operations Command, the US Navy, and the US Marine Corps on December 6, 2023.  

On March 8, 2024, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced that the V-22 Osprey’s grounding was lifted following a comprehensive review of the mishap and the implementation of risk mitigation measures. 

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