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thedrifter
06-01-07, 07:15 AM
Osprey takes flight at Twentynine Palms Marine base

Michelle Mitchell
The Desert Sun
May 31, 2007

TWENTYNINE PALMS — Marines here for the first time began training on the hybrid V-22 Osprey that military officials plan to use in the war in Iraq later this year.

The Osprey, a specialized aircraft that has capabilities of both a helicopter and a fixed-wing airplane, would help retire the CH-46, a Vietnam War era chopper.

“This is the aircraft that’s the future of the Marine Corps,” aid Maj. Keith Darby, senior aviation representative.

This is the first time the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms has used the Osprey — which will be deployed to Iraq by late August — in its Mojave Viper training that every Marine in the country completes before deploying to Iraq.

The Osprey take offs and lands like a helicopter, but flies like an airplane, enabling it to fly twice as fast and twice as far as a chopper.

“You can take off faster from farther away, get there faster with more stuff and you can get back to the ship faster to make more runs,” Capt. Chad Walton said.

The Osprey is not without its critics. In 2000, two crashes killed 23 Marines, grounding the aircraft to fix glitches during the testing phase, which has ended.
Walton said the problems have been corrected.

“If the Marines had safety concerns, we wouldn’t put Marines on it,” he said.

The new aircraft did not change training for the Marines using it on Thursday.

They practiced medical evacuations — assessing the injury of a fallen Marine and getting him or her safely to the Osprey for transport to a hospital.

“The air platform’s not important; it’s the standardized process,” said Camp Pendleton Marine First Lt. David Samuel, who was participating in the month-long Mojave Viper training.

“The bottom line is, any kind of new technology or new capability that we can bring to help (Iraqis) stand on their feet is nothing but a good thing,” Gunnery Sgt. Chris Cox said.

Ellie