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Pacific News Minute: Japan First Country to Buy Controversial V-22 Tilt Rotor Planes

mashleymorgan / Flickr
mashleymorgan / Flickr

Last week Japan's parliament, the Diet, prompted considerable controversy when the lower house approved legislation that reinterprets the country's pacifist constitution to widen the circumstances under which the country could go to war.  With less notice, Japan also purchased five V-22 Ospreys...military aircraft that have been controversial for any number of reasons.  Details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

The Marine Corps already operates its version of the V-22 from bases on Okinawa where there's a long running dispute over a new base that's supposed to be constructed in a less populated area.  Among the objections raised by the local government is the safety record of the V-22 which suffered a series of accidents in development.  Prototypes numbers 4 and 5 both crashed, and it was grounded in 2000, after 19 Marines died in two further crashes.

As the first aircraft of its kind, the V-22 also ran into enormous development problems that turned into enormous cost overruns.  The plane can take off like a helicopter, then tilt its engines 90 degrees for horizontal flight, which allows it to fly farther, faster and carry more troops or cargo than conventional helicopters.  While it requires intensive maintenance, the MV-22's safety record in Iraq and Afghanistan was outstanding.  Hundreds are in service with the Marines, the Air Force bought 50 for Special Operations and the Navy just decided to buy the V-22 as its new COD, or Carrier On-Board Delivery plane...an all-purpose transport that ferries personnel and equipment.

While Israel, India and the UAE have all expressed interest, Japan is the first international customer for the Bell-Boeing V-22, along with planned purchases of the F-35 joint Strike Fighter, will make it easier for the armed forces of Japan and the United States to operate in concert. 

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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