Japan and the Coming of the Osprey


The Japanese along with the USAF and the USN are trained to operate the Osprey at the USMC’s New River Air Station.

The increased number of aircraft and partners is providing a welcome challenge to the Marines at New River.

In a recent visit to 2nd MAW, the training role was highlighted for the new partners.

During visits several years ago at New River, the Osprey training squadron was focused upon the Marines and the Air Force.

Now with the US Navy buying Ospreys as well as the Japanese, there are new stakeholders in the training process, and that training squadron has become a priority effort within MAG-26 for sure.

Given the concerns the Japanese have about public opinion, and the flawed public record with regard to Osprey safety, there is a challenge facing the Japanese forces to deploy and use the new aircraft in Japan.

An original way to address the challenge has been provided by working the CV-22 aspect of the Osprey within the Japanese force structure.

According to a story published on March 24, 2019 by The Japan Times, the Japanese government has decided to deploy CV-22s along with a revamped UH-60 as part of a rescue ops package.

The government plans to introduce a special operations variant of the U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft for Self-Defense Forces to conduct dangerous and covert missions abroad, such as the rescuing of Japanese citizens, according to sources.

The Ground Self-Defense Force has a special anti-terror unit to carry out such operations. But the unit is still not fully capable and lacks specialized aircraft.

Under the government plan, the CV-22 Osprey, the special operations variant of the MV-22, will be deployed along with refurbished models of the GSDF’s UH-60 helicopter, the government sources said Saturday.

The CV-22 is widely seen as more capable of nighttime flying and its terrain-following radar enables it to fly at low altitudes, they said. The remodeled UH-60 is regarded as better armored and can be carried by the Air Self-Defense Force’s C-2 transport airplanes.


In an article we published in 2014, we focused on the coming of the Osprey as part of the defense modernization effort by the Japanese.

That article follows:

When we wrote our book on Pacific strategy, a key element in considering how the key challenges facing the United States and its allies was how Japanese relationships with the US and the Pacific allies might evolve.

The entire second section of our book deals with Japan, and after a history of the relationship, which was largely, the work of Dr. Richard Weitz, we focused on where Japanese defense policy might evolve in the coming years. We argued that with the emergence of the “dynamic defense” approach Japan would reach out to shape new capabilities to provide for perimeter defense and to plus up its working relationships with allies in the region.

We argued that:

The Chinese seem bent on driving the two greatest maritime powers of the 20th century together into a closer alliance.

And at the heart of this alliance are key joint investments and procurement working relationships.

Japan is a key technological partner for the United States throughout. They are a founding member of the Aegis global enterprise.

They are an investor and operational partner in the SM-3 missile capability to enhance missile defense.

They are a major player in the F-35 program, which will allow the shaping of an attack-and-defense enterprise.

They are building a final assembly facility for the F-35, which will become a key element in the F-35 global procurement system, subject to Japanese
government policy decisions.

And they are keenly interested in seeing how the Osprey can shape greater reach and range for the “dynamic defense” of Japan.

Laird, Robbin F.; Timperlake, Edward (2013-10-28). Rebuilding American Military Power in the Pacific: A 21st-Century Strategy: A 21st-Century Strategy (The Changing Face of War) (Kindle Locations 3968-3969). ABC-CLIO. Kindle Edition.

Hardly had the book been printed than the Japanese government moved forward on its “dynamic defense” policy.

Notably, the current Prime Minister has worked to reshape Japanese policy to allow it to become a more significant contributor for its neighbors and to provide a more significant contribution to the US and allied deterrence in depth strategy, which is emerging in this decade of the 21st century.

With the decisions made to re-set Japanese defense policy, the Japanese government will clearly play a greater role in Pacific defense. 

And a recent piece in The Japan Times provides the following look at how the “new look” in defense policy might alter Japanese policies.

The Abe administration’s reinterpretation of the war-renouncing Constitution to allow greater use of military force in defending other countries is one of the biggest changes ever to Japan’s postwar security policy.

The administration has given a range of examples as to how the Self-Defense Forces might used when related laws are updated later this year. They include scenarios in which troops might:

Defend U.S. warships.

Troops could protect U.S. warships under attack from a third country near Japanese waters, before an imminent, direct attack on Japan, because cooperation with the U.S. military is considered essential to secure Japan’s own survival.

Intercept ships for inspection.

Troops might forcibly stop vessels for inspection when they are believed to be carrying weapons to a third country that is attacking U.S. warships in the region, when the battle seems likely to spill over to Japan — a step currently considered unconstitutional and prohibited as use of force.

Shoot down a missile fired at the U.S.

The SDF could intercept a ballistic missile that is flying over the Japanese archipelago heading toward Hawaii, the U.S. territory of Guam or the U.S. mainland, and when requested by America to do so.

Protect peacekeepers abroad.

SDF personnel could rescue civilians engaged in U.N.-backed peacekeeping operations that come under attack, using weapons if necessary to defend those civilians.

Minesweeping in the Middle East.

A plan still being contemplated would allow Japanese forces to participate in U.N.-led multinational minesweeping efforts to secure sea lanes in the Middle East, such as in the Strait of Hormuz, arguably crucial lifelines for resource-poor Japan.

For a look at the Japanese rethink on defense see the video below which was released by the Japanese MOD earlier this year, March 14, 2014: