Even people not familiar with military aviation can name the plane when they see a picture of a V-22 Osprey. The distinguished shape of the world's first production tiltrotor aircraft makes it easily recognizable. The V-22 looks like a fixed wing aircraft but at the same time it can fly like a helicopter. That makes it a special bird to fly and there is only one place in the world where you can learn to do that: Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina, U.S. The only unit worldwide that trains these pilots is Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 (VMMT-204), named “Raptors”.
The Bell Boeing Osprey combines the speed of a “regular” airplane with the hovering capability of a helicopter. That combination makes it highly deployable in several roles: transport of troops, cargo delivery, medevac operations, humanitarian relief and Special Forces missions. Fast delivery of combat troops made the aircraft very effective for the U.S. Marines.
The aircraft is now in use with the U.S. Marines Corps and U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. These services use the MV-22 respectively the CV-22. The U.S. Navy will also start using the Osprey. It signed a memorandum of understanding in January 2015 to buy the aircraft as a replacement for the C-2 Greyhound in the role of Carrier Onboard Delivery duties.
The combination of being a helicopter and aircraft at the same time makes the training to fly the Osprey a real challenge. Since 1999, VMMT-204 is responsible for the ‘Osprey University’. Their mission: provide training to both Marine and Air Force Osprey pilots, Marine crew chiefs and units in the use and maintenance of the MV-22 Osprey. Unprecedented advantage to warfighters In closing, this aircraft’s tiltrotor technology has revolutionized military assault support and unlike any aircraft before it, the MV-22 successfully blends the vertical flight capabilities of helicopters with the speed, range, altitude and endurance of fixed-wing transports. This unique combination provides an unprecedented advantage to warfighters, allowing current missions to be executed more effectively, and new missions to be accomplished that were previously unachievable on legacy platforms – this wouldn’t be possible without the training received at VMMT-204.
You can find our full review in the December 2015 issue of Full-Stop Magazine