Monday, January 7, 2013

Tinian, Guam to see more Ospreys

Tinian, Guam to see more Ospreys
By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor
avz@mvariety.com
Variety News Staff

THE deployment of the MV-22 Osprey will be integral to the next iteration of the Marines expeditionary exercise on Tinian and Guam.

In an interview Thursday [Dec. 13] with Variety, Marine Wing Support Squadron – 171 Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Howard C. Eyth III said, “We are looking to train with the Osprey each time that we would come back for an exercise on Tinian and Guam.”

Eyth succeeded Lt. Col. Michael Taylor as MWSS-171 commanding officer. Taylor was on Tinian in May for Operation Geiger Fury.

Tinian received its historic visit of an MV-22 Osprey last Monday.

Online sources claim that an MV-22 Osprey has the speed and range of a turboprop, the maneuverability of a helicopter and the ability to carry 24 Marine combat troops twice as fast and five times farther than previous helicopters.

The said aircraft, which takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane, was first tested in Japan last September.

Eyth told Variety, “On Tinian, we’ve had very few issues with accommodating the Osprey here at this airfield.”

He said that from refueling it to any minor maintenance repairs that may have been required, they quickly “were able to bring the mechanics and the parts to fix a minor issue earlier today and to get it back on its way.”

He clarified that the aircraft had to go through routine checks.

He said “there was absolutely no problem with the Osprey itself. The minor repairs required in one the planes were pretty routine in nature.”

At the airfield last Thursday, Variety witnessed the refueling and the takeoff of two MV-22 Osprey aircraft.

“We just saw MV-22 Ospreys get fuel at our FARP [Forward Arming and Refueling Point] and then taxi out to the runway and do a helicopter mode takeoff and conversion to airplane mode for follow-on,” said Eyth.

Surge operations were still ongoing on Thursday.

Variety asked Eyth how long would the surge operations continue, he said, “We are looking at a couple more days.”

He said they anticipate to remain at the airfield about a week’s timeframe and continue to operate.

He said they would still continue to receive KC-130J Hercules, FA-18D Hornets and CH-60 helicopters.

He said the KC-130J — a cargo aircraft — is the “main workhorse of the Marine Corps.”

Asked how many Ospreys have they had on Tinian so far, Eyth said, “We’ve had quite a number. All together, I’ll have to say by the day anywhere from six to 10 per day that showed up at various types.”

To the question whether MV-22 Osprey is replacing their CH-46 helicopters, Eyth replied, “I think we’re well on our way to that. We are phasing out our CH-46s. We are phasing in our MV-22 Ospreys.”

He said the squadrons that are operating on Tinian as part of the Operation Forager Fury “are fully operational.”

Eyth said that MV-22 Ospreys “offer a lot to the Marines that are participating in this exercise in terms of operational capability.”
Ospreys are designed for expeditionary assault support, raid operations, cargo lift and special warfare.

The arrival of the Ospreys last Monday highlighted the surge operations for Forager Fury.

Master Sgt. Roy L. Clayton Jr., the noncommissioned officer in charge of Marine forces on Tinian with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, said "Surge are Marine Aircraft Group 12 showing in force how, in a simulated hostile environment, they can do continuous flight operations. The pilots are trying to get the most number of flights and we are training to provide the best aviation ground support."

Forager Fury Public Affairs Officer 2nd Lt. Clayton Groover said, “Everything we are doing out here is training us for a potential real world scenario, should one arise. Everyone is training during the surge: from the pilots conducting air operations to the logistics Marines figuring out how to get everyone fed, the surge is a great opportunity for the Marines and sailors to do their jobs under a simulated, continuous operational tempo."
[This story was published in www.mvariety.com on Dec. 18)


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