Defense Official Emphasizes Commitment to Osprey Safety
July 21 - Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter spoke at a media roundtable in Tokyo where he stressed the U.S. commitment to safety in the deployment of the MV-22 Osprey military transport aircraft. The Deputy Secretary reiterated the shared position of the United States Government and the Government of Japan that the MV-22 Osprey "won't fly in Japan until its airworthiness has been investigated, analyzed, and reconfirmed."
Some other excerpts of the Deputy Secretary's remarks follow:
On the Timing of Osprey Deployment
"The schedule is not the main thing. Airworthiness and safety is the main thing. That is what we are trying to work through together. And I think we both agreed that the Osprey won't fly in Japan until its airworthiness has been investigated, analyzed, and reconfirmed. So it's airworthiness, not the calendar, that matters."
On Assessing Osprey Airworthiness
"This is a process, a technical process of assessing airworthiness. And I think you have to let the experts do their work, have their access to their data, and so forth. So, that's the current plan, but again, you have to allow people to do their technical work. I should say, by the way, that this is not something novel. Our two governments and our two militaries operate a large number of aircraft, and common types of aircraft. So it's not unusual to have Japanese experts address airworthiness issues in aircraft - not just military aircraft, obviously, but commercial aircraft as well. It's a normal part of the process of confirming flight safety of aircraft of all types.
I think safety concerns are not damaging to the Alliance. That's a very legitimate thing, and we need to address it, and we will address it, and we have a plan to address it. And that process is a reflection of the strength of the Alliance. We've agreed on a path ahead. And I absolutely understand the concerns of the Japanese people for flight safety, because I share their concerns for flight safety. I don't have any problem with that at all. These are serious technical issues; they'll be resolved.
Airworthiness determinations are done all the time, and constantly, on every kind of aircraft that we fly. And you know we fly many kinds of aircraft in common: helicopters, propeller-driven aircraft, jet-driven aircraft, both military and commercial are flown by the Japanese in the skies all over the world every day. And so airworthiness is a constant concern. As I said, to me, as the Deputy Secretary of Defense, I'm constantly concerned about that, because our pilots are flying aircraft all over the world of all types every day, and they have to be airworthy and safe. And we think the same thing for the V-22 - it's no different from anything else. It's a completely legitimate issue; I have no problem with it being raised by the Japanese people or government."
On Osprey's Capabilities
"You're absolutely right that the Osprey is an important capability; it's going to make an important new contribution to deterrence and to the deterrent capabilities of the Alliance. And it's an aircraft that we are flying, and flying the world over. However, safety is a very important issue, and I am the chief, as I said, the chief management officer of the Department of Defense. The safety of aircraft is a great concern to me, and a great responsibility of mine. I take it very seriously, and I think the Government of Japan and the people of Japan also take it very seriously. I think that's entirely appropriate.
And we are committed to providing your airworthiness experts with all of the data and all of the information about the entire flight history of the V-22, including the two recent incidents, and allowing them to analyze that data and take every step they need to make to reconfirm the airworthiness of that airplane. And the two governments have agreed that flight operations will not begin until reconfirmation has taken place. You asked about the landing of the airframes; that's a technical step that does not address the safety issue. That's a technical step; the aircraft will land at Iwakuni. But the plan, jointly agreed to by the two governments, is to deal with the safety issue."