Ceremony for New GSDF Unit Held without Ospreys
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Kisarazu, Chiba Pref., April 5 (Jiji Press)--A ceremony to mark the launch of a Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force unit to operate Osprey transport planes was held on Sunday, but without the presence of any of the U.S.-developed aircraft.
No Osprey took part in the ceremony, held at the GSDF camp in the city of Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture, eastern Japan, due to a delay in a decision on a definite place to host the aircraft.
The Kisarazu camp is set to temporarily host the Osprey for five years. Two Ospreys are slated to arrive at the camp from the United States in June and later, and a total of 17 units of the aircraft will be deployed at the facility within the five-year provisional period.
The new unit, comprising about 430 GSDF members, was formed in March. "The unit is very important for the defense of southwestern islands of Japan," Col. Satoru Fuwa, 45, head of the unit, said in a press conference at the camp on Sunday. "We are grateful to the local communities for accepting the unit, so we will do our best to ensure safe operations."
The Defense Ministry has decided to deploy 17 Ospreys at the GSDF between fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2021. But negotiations on using Saga Airport, in the southwestern city of Saga, which the ministry believes is the best place to host the Ospreys, have run into difficulties.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]