GSDF Osprey to Hold Drill to Transport Wounded in Okinawa

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
An Osprey deployed in the Ground Self-Defense Force

NAHA (Jiji Press) — The Ground Self-Defense Force said Thursday that it will conduct in October a drill to transport wounded personnel using an Osprey transport aircraft in Okinawa Prefecture’s Ishigaki Island.

It will be the first time for a GSDF Osprey to fly in the prefecture.

The drill will be part of the Resolute Dragon 23 joint exercise, the third of its kind. Resolute Dragon, conducted by the GSDF and the U.S. Marine Corps., is one of the biggest field training exercises in Japan.

Under a scenario that some GSDF members were injured in combat, the Osprey will transport them from an airport on Ishigaki to the GSDF’s Takayubaru subcamp in Kumamoto Prefecture, via the Setouchi subcamp on the island of Amami Oshima in Kagoshima Prefecture.

The GSDF is also considering practicing transporting individuals posing as local residents, as well as U.S. military personnel.

The Japanese and U.S. sides will set up a joint coordination office on Ishigaki and conduct combat training using U.S. radars.

According to the GSDF, it will be the first time for the U.S. military to operate on Ishigaki.

On Wednesday, the Okinawa prefectural government asked the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau that the GSDF refrain from flying the Osprey aircraft within the prefecture during the joint exercise, out of concerns about safety.

“It is significant to hold a field training exercise in an area where we currently operate,” a GSDF official said, vowing to make efforts to gain understanding from local residents.