US and Japan reach agreement on Osprey deployment

The United States and Japan have reached an agreement that allows the V-22 Osprey to begin flight operations in Japan.

Plans to deploy 12 of the hybrid military aircrafts to the southwestern island of Okinawa had been in question because of protests by Japanese citizens who feared the aircraft was not safe. The Osprey takes off and lands like a helicopter but can fly like a plane.

In a statement released during a trip to Asia, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says he is pleased with the agreement.

The Pentagon calls the agreement with Japan the result of "a deep partnership" and a thorough process that has reconfirmed the safety of the aircraft.

U.S. officials say the Osprey will help strengthen the U.S. ability to defend Japan and provide humanitarian assistance.