Guam – Exercise Forager Fury is in full operation on Guam and throughout the Mariana Islands. The Marine Corps exercise includes the use of MV-22 ospreys, which recently replaced the C H-46 helicopters that had been based in Okinawa. Island leaders and the media were invited on a familiarization flight today where the Marines also answered questions about the aircraft.
While V-22s are new to the marines operating out of Okinawa, they have been in use by the Marine Corps for a number of years and have proven themselves in combat.
“Looking at both the range of operations whether from operation aboard ship or from land bases we can reach farther faster” said Major General Christopher S. Owens, Commanding General 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. “We can come in with less signature in other words they wont hear us coming they wont see us coming and we can get in and out a lot quicker than we could with helicopters.”
The osprey combines the vertical flight capability of a helicopter with the range altitude and speed of a fixed wing aircraft.
“In helicopter mode all of your lift is being provided by rotors themselves so thats why they’re in a vertical position just like a helicopter,” General Owens explained. “As the aircraft gets airborne we start moving those wings forward… so as the aircraft accelerates more of the lift is being provided by the wing itself then you also get the control authority on the horizontal tail surfaces too.”
The Ospreys unique capabilities are also valuable for disaster relief.
“In the post typhoon, post tsunami type scenarios where you have a lot of devastation these may be the only aircraft that can both reach out that far and bring sizable amounts of gear in and bring it into a confined area.
While residents of Okinawa have raised safety concerns about the Osprey, General Owens says that the Marine Corps has determined that that the fatal accident in Morocco last April resulted from procedural errors that had been made by the aircrew. When asked about an informational request issued by the navy regarding a wiring fault General Owens noted that the aircraft requires significant maintenance but said he is confident in its safety.
“Of the 50 or 60 aircraft that I remember being compared it is in the Top 5 as far as safety record goes” General Owens stated.