The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) became the first international operator of the US-built Bell Boeing MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor after it began flight operations with the platform on November 6.
The first operational flight took place from the JGSDF’s Camp Kisarazu in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture, following a ceremony which marked the nation’s activation of the V-22 programme. This milestone comes after the first two aircraft were handed over to the JGSDF in July 2020 and was announced in a November 12 statement from US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).
In the statement, NAVAIR said: “The activation of the JGSDF’s Transportation Aviation Group flight operations is a major milestone for both the Japanese and V-22 Joint Program Office and follows a key success this summer: delivering the first aircraft to Japan, on schedule, during a global pandemic.”
Col Matthew Kelly, programme manager for the V-22 Joint Program Office, added: “The JGSDF is taking a big step toward integrating the V-22’s unique capabilities into its mission. Beginning with Japan’s selection of the V-22 in 2015, it has been an honour working with our international ally and partner to make this programme a reality.”
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) approved the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of up to 17 MV-22B Block Cs, along with 40 Rolls-Royce AE 1107C turboshaft engines, for an estimated US$3bn. Bell Boeing was contracted to produce and deliver the first five aircraft to Japan in July 2015, which was followed up with the order for an additional four examples in July 2016.
The JGSDF is the fourth operator of the V-22 platform and is the first international customer of the type to induct it into operational service. Alongside the JGSDF, variants of the Osprey is employed by the US Air Force (CV-22B), US Marine Corps (MV-22B) and US Navy (CMV-22B).