WASHINGTON: After three successful combat deployments over more than 19 consecutive months, Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys will begin a global deployment with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, a senior Marine aviation official said yesterday.
“The Marine Corps views these first three deployments of the Osprey into combat as marvelously successful,” Lt. Gen. George J. Trautman III, deputy commandant of aviation, said during a “DoD Live” bloggers roundtable. “The aircraft completed every assigned mission, and it did so flying faster, farther, and with safer flight profiles than any other assault support aircraft in the history of military operations.”
While in Iraq, the Osprey flew thousands of missions, impressing those who flew in it with its speed and range, Trautman said.
“The way the Osprey collapsed the battle space in al Anbar — in fact, indeed throughout all of Iraq — is really something that amazed those who saw it perform,” he said. “The aircraft has tremendous range, and [impressive] speed with which it moves around the operational area.”
For example, Trautman said one of his commanders told him that when the Osprey arrived in Iraq, it turned his battle space from the size of Texas into the size of Rhode Island.
The Osprey’s speed and range, Trautman said, means a lot more support for Marines on the ground.
“Marine aviation exists to support the warfighter — the Marine on the ground, the soldier in distress — and the Osprey offers the warfighter a tremendous advantage over the enemy, and it also offers an incredible increase in capability for our commanders.”
While the MV-22 is being deployed only with the 22nd MEU right now, Trautman said every MEU will have an Osprey squadron in the future.
“As the transition from our legacy CH-46s to MV-22s continues, every subsequent MEU from the East Coast is going to deploy … Ospreys, and this will have a very important effect on those combatant commanders that we support,” he said.
Though the Osprey has faced some challenges and there is still much to learn from the deployments to Iraq, Trautman said, plans call for sending one squadron to Afghanistan later this year.
“We understand that Afghanistan is a harsh environment, especially a harsh environment on aircraft,” he said. “But we’re incredibly confident that having the Osprey in that environment is going to pay dividends for our forces.”
Trautman added that several different weapons and weapons systems have been mounted to the Osprey, and that officials are discussing other options.
“We’re going to increase the capability of the ramp-mounted weapon system to take up to a .5- caliber machine gun for heavier firepower should we need it,” he said. Also, the Air Force Special Operations Command has developed a smaller-caliber weapon that can provide 360-degree quadrant coverage, the general added.