Marine Corps commanders in Japan on Monday gave the green light to resume flight operations for MV-22 Ospreys, which had been suspended for six days after a crash on Dec. 13.
Two Marines were injured in the crash that occurred after the Osprey was refueling midair when its rotor struck the refueling line, causing damage to the aircraft.
"After a thorough and careful review of our safety procedures, checklists, and aircraft, I am highly confident that we can continue safe flight operations of the MV-22 in support of our Alliance partner and obligations," Lt. Gen Lawrence D. Nicholson, the commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force, said in a Marine Corps statement released Monday.
The Marines' use of the tilt-rotor Osprey is controversial in Okinawa, where many residents oppose the U.S. military presence and fear the aircraft and its unique design are dangerous and pose risks to local residents.
U.S. military officials first notified Japanese authorities of their plans to resume flight operations on Friday and delivered a final briefing for the government of Japan on Monday morning, officials said.
"It is very important for Japanese citizens to understand and share our utmost confidence in the safety and reliability of the MV-22, or we would not continue flight operations," Nicholson said in the statement.
"It is equally important that we ensure our pilots have every opportunity to conduct training, which allows us to remain proficient, and enable us to respond when most needed in support of the Alliance."
The Dec. 13 crash in shallow water was the sixth major Marine aviation mishap since October. It came only six days after Marine Capt. Jake Frederick was killed when his F/A-18C Hornet crashed into the Pacific about 120 miles southeast of Iwakuni, Japan.
Andrew Tilghman is the executive editor for Military Times. He is a former Military Times Pentagon reporter and served as a Middle East correspondent for the Stars and Stripes. Before covering the military, he worked as a reporter for the Houston Chronicle in Texas, the Albany Times Union in New York and The Associated Press in Milwaukee.