Ospreys boost US Marines deployment in NT

GIANT birds of prey will hover the Territory’s skies as part of this year’s US Marines deployment in the Top End.

A number of Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft are heading to Darwin to quickly deploy the 1250 marines who will soon be calling the city home for the next six months.

The Osprey aircraft take off and land like helicopters but can fly like planes.

While the US Marine deployment will have the same number of personnel as the previous, the new rotation will have superior aircraft numbers supporting it.

As well as the Ospreys there will be five AH-1W Super Cobras and four UH-1Y Venoms.

The officer in charge of the forward co-ordination for Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, Lt. Colonel Matthew Emborsky, said the Osprey’s speed and distances it could operate in made it perfect for the Territory outback.

Last year the marines were supported by just four Huey helicopters.

The Ospreys will be based at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin and will become a regular feature in our skies.

“Bradshaw Field Training Area, where our marines drill, is an eight-hour drive from Darwin … the Osprey can get there in an hour,” Lt. Colonel Emborsky said.

US Marines ground fleet of Osprey aircraft in Japan

The U.S.A. Marine Corps has suspended flights of its Osprey aircraft in Japan after one of the planes crash-landed off the coast of Okinawa, injuring five crew members.

The crash triggered protests on Okinawa, where anti-U.S. military sentiment is already strong.

Many Okinawans were opposed to deploying the Osprey on the island due to safety concerns following a string of crashes outside Japan, including one in Hawaii last year.
The Mayor of Nago, Susumu Inamine, said: 'This is what we have feared might happen some day. We can never live safely here.'

More than half of the 50,000 American troops in Japan are stationed on Okinawa under the Japan-US security treaty.

Defiant wife of Japanese PM Abe visits US Okinawa base construction protest

Japan’s first lady Akie Abe says she is “ready to face criticism” after attending an anti-government rally, protesting the construction of new helipads at the US-operated military in Okinawa.

“This is my first step to create a world of love and harmony,” Akie Abe wrote in a Facebook status update.

The helipads are being constructed as compensation for a 1996 agreement, in which the US would hand back 4,000 hectares out of the 7,800 that constitute the training area, providing six new landing spots would be built on the remaining land.

Construction began in 2007, yet so far only two have been completed, after an unending series of protests and legal challenges.

Work has recently restarted, but residents of the nearby village of Higashi – who say that the helipads will be too close to residential areas – have blockaded roads, prevented trucks carrying materials from entering the construction site, and staged sit-ins.

Nearly three quarters of US military resources in Japan are located on the small archipelago to the south of most of Japan’s islands, and residents say they have long been inconvenienced by the base, which was constructed following the country’s defeat in World War II.

Osprey fatality in Hawaii

One Marine was killed when an MV-22 Osprey from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit experience a hard-landing mishap while conducting training aboard Marine Corps Training Area – Bellows at approximately 11:40 a.m., Hawaii time.
Twenty-two Marines were aboard at the time, and all other 21 have been transported to local hospitals for assessment and treatment.
The Marines were conducting routine sustainment training at the time. The 15th MEU departed San Diego May 10 on a seven-month deployment to the Pacific Command and Central Command areas of operation.
The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Osprey are due in Darwin this year for the Talisman Sabre (TS15) Wargames.