26th MEU clutched by an Osprey

24 Aug 2011 | Public Affairs Office 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines and sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit Command Element visited Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266, Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force to gain a better understanding of what an MV-22B Osprey squadron can provide to a Marine-Air Ground Task Force as the squadron conducted routine training at Marine Corps Air Station New River, Aug. 10, 2011.

During the visit, the MEU’s Marines and sailors experienced the speed and capabilities of the MV-22B Osprey, an airplane-helicopter hybrid that combines the speed of a fixed-wing aircraft with the landing and take-off capabilities of a helicopter.

After meeting with the squadron’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Chris Boniface, and a few of the pilots in the squadron to talk about the characteristics of the aircraft, the Marines and sailors donned flight gear and boarded two Ospreys for a training.

The training flight proved to the Marines and sailors, many of whom had not been on the relatively new aircraft, that the Osprey can be an integral element of the MEU’s operational planning, providing the ability to perform well in a variety of missions due to the aircraft’s ability to cruise at high-speeds and quickly transitioning to helicopter mode to increase low-speed maneuverability.

The extra speed shined while the pilots flew the Osprey in airplane mode, much faster than their helicopter counterparts, while the utility of the vertical take-off and landing capability became evident as the pilots slowed the aircraft into a hover and began to practice quick landings into small landing zones, dropping off notional troops, and then rapidly taking-off to get to a higher altitude, where the aircraft is safer from small-arms fire.

For the commanding officer of the 26th MEU, Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, the opportunity to have a first-hand view of the pilots flying their aircraft, and the aircrew performing their duties in the back of the aircraft provided him an experience of the capabilities for future missions that may involve the MV-22B.

“Whether it’s lifting a heliborne raid force and lifting them into an objective area, whether it’s supporting a humanitarian operation by lifting food into an area, (the Osprey) allows the MEU to operate across the whole spectrum of military operations,” said St. Clair.

Having the abilities of an aircraft like the Osprey at his disposal during a deployment has tremendous benefits, St. Clair added.

“I’m completely focused on being able to respond to the needs of the combatant commanders when we deploy, and the MV-22B Osprey allows me to do just that.”