More Osprey aircraft heading to Japan

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By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense officials say the U.S. will deploy a second squadron of MV-22 Osprey aircraft to Okinawa, amid persistent local worries and community protests about the safety of the aircraft.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is discussing the deployment of about 12 more aircraft in a Monday meeting with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera.

Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

The Japanese government approved the deployment of 12 Ospreys last fall after receiving additional security assurances from the Pentagon. Okinawans were concerned about two Osprey crashes last year, in Florida and Morocco, particularly because the Okinawa base in in a residential area.

Military officials say the hybrid aircraft which can take off and land like a helicopter, is critical for regional security efforts.

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