Japan seeks to ground Osprey in wake of deadly Australia crash

he Japanese government has urged the U.S. military to ground all MV-22 Ospreys in Japan after one of the controversial tilt-rotor aircraft crashed off Australia’s eastern coast Saturday, presumably killing three Marines.

“I have requested that they refrain from all flight operations by MV-22 Ospreys in Japan,” newly appointed Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Sunday.

Onodera – who took over last week for embattled former defense minister Tomomi Inada in the wake of a data cover-up scandal – also called on the Marines to provide information on the crash, to investigate its cause and to take preventative measures, a ministry spokeswoman said Monday.

As of Monday afternoon in Japan, Marine officials had not responded to Onodera’s request or to requests for comment from Stars and Stripes.

The helicopter-plane hybrid from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 crashed into the sea at around 4 p.m. Saturday after taking off from the USS Bonhomme Richard for regularly scheduled operations, Marine officials said in a series of statements over the weekend.

The aircraft – carrying 26 Marines at the time – was approaching the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay when it smashed into its deck and slid into the ocean, according to the Courier-Mail, a newspaper based in Brisbane, Australia.

All but three of the Marines were rescued after the Bonhomme Richard and Green Bay launched small boats and aircraft, the statements and media reports said.

After a shaky development history that included several deadly high-profile crashes, the Osprey became a symbol of the anti-base resistance on Okinawa in 2012 when it arrived on the island to replace the Marines’ aging fleet of Sea Knight helicopters. The aircraft has since been the focal point of near daily protests, and expelling it from the island was a major campaign promise of Gov. Takeshi Onaga’s during the 2014 election.

US Marines consider grounding Osprey fleet after deadly Australia crash

The US Marine Corps may ground its entire air fleet for a safety review following the crash of an Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft in Australia that killed three Marines, a defense official said Monday.

The Japan-based Marine MV-22 Osprey crashed Saturday during an exercise off the Australian coast, leaving three service members missing and presumed dead.

"We are looking at our options in terms of reviewing safety across the Marine Corps fleet at the moment ... pending an across-the-board safety review," a US defense official told AFP, noting that the grounding could affect all flying squads in the service.

US officials are also weighing a request by Japan's new defense minister, who told the US military on Monday of his "many concerns" after it flew an Osprey in Japan following the crash.

Itsunori Onodera, appointed Thursday as Japan's defense minister, asked the US to temporarily stop flying the aircraft in his country following the accident.

According to the US official, the Osprey crashed after clipping the back of the USS Green Bay while trying to land on the amphibious transport ship. The Okinawa-based aircraft which crashed was in Australia as part of a joint military exercise called Talisman Sabre, which has just ended in Queensland state.

Australian troops could soon fight extremists in Asia, USA Marine Corps general says

The commander of more than 80,000 US marines in the Pacific is urging Australia to join operations against Islamic State (IS) militants in South-East Asia.

Lieutenant General David Berger is visiting Australia to check on readiness for the Talisman Sabre military exercises off the Queensland and Northern Territory coasts.

He told the ABC the "movement of violent extremist organisations" was a "very real problem" for countries like the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Hawaii-based commanding general of US Marine Corps Forces Pacific said he expected Australian forces could soon join American personnel fighting Islamic extremists in this region.

"Both of us have a long history of being an expeditionary force when needed, so we begin from a common point I think and we've operated alongside for 100 years," General Berger said.

"Regionally where you're looking for stability, where you're looking to reassure other countries that there will be a strong enough force in the region to deter bad behaviour, I think absolutely yes — we would go where asked."

The visiting US general warned that Australia's neighbours would need assistance if they were to successfully stop the threat posed by IS-inspired militants. "I think the potential for it to spread is there, we should not underestimate it," he cautioned. "It's a different kind of a threat than North Korea but it's also a threat that moves in order to survive — it doesn't own a state so it's mobile.

US Marine deployment in Darwin no threat to Indonesia, says Commanding Officer Lt Col Brian S. Middleton

INDONESIA has nothing to fear from the deployment of US Marines in the Territory, the Commanding Officer of the Marine Rotational Force Darwin said on Tuesday.

Lieutenant Colonel Brian S. Middleton had just landed with the first 200 of 1250 US marines who will form the sixth and most complex US marine air ground taskforce to be deployed to the Territory.

Although reluctant to comment on the issue, Lt-Colonel Middleton said he was aware of comments made by Indonesia’s armed forces chief Gatot Nurmantyo in January questioning the US marine presence in Darwin.

General Nurmantyo said while pretending to be on a visit to Darwin he spent 90 minutes on the harbour looking at US marine facilities.

“I saw two landing bases had already been built. Even though Australia is a continental state — what does it need marines for?” he told Indonesian media.

The Indonesian general has previously criticised Australia’s hosting of US marines.

“I am aware of his comments … Indonesia has nothing to fear from US marine deployments to Darwin,” he said. “The US alliance with Australia remains strong and we know why we are here. That is for US Marines and Aussie Diggers to train and operate alongside each other.”

It is believed General Gatot Nurmantyo has political ambitions and Lt-Colonel Middleton agreed that the General’s comments were probably aimed at local consumption. However, he pulled no punches when asked about the role the 1250-strong marine air ground taskforce deployment would play if tensions between his country and North Korea escalated into direct conflict.

 

US troops arrive in Top End for Marine Rotational Force Darwin

Lieutenant Colonel Brian S. Middleton, says the 1250 US Marine deployment to Darwin stands ready to fight if tensions between his country and North Korea escalate into direct conflict.

Lieut. Colonel Middleton said when US Marines were in forward deployment they were ready for battle.

Lieut. Colonel Middleton is leading the sixth and most complex US marine air-ground task force to be deployed to the Territory.

Along with the 1250 marines that make up the latest Darwin rotation of US troops, it will eventually include up to 13 aircraft, four tilt-rotor Ospreys, five Super Cobra helicopters and four Huey helicopters.

When asked about the North Korea stand-off he said: “We stand ready to fight.”

The marines are from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment from Camp Pendleton, California. They will be based at Robertson Barracks, RAAF Base Darwin and Defence Establishment Berrimah.

Marine Rotational Force Darwin is mainly a series of joint exercises, training and exchanges between the US and the Australian Defence Force, but some exercises will also involve military personnel from China and other Asian countries.

The US has rotated a small force of Marines through Darwin since 2012. It was originally planned to send a full Marine Air-Ground Task Force of 2500 Marines to Australia by 2016, but the timeline has been pushed back to around 2020.