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thedrifter
02-26-09, 04:35 PM
Ospreys to Afghanistan?
By Nathan Hodge

If the U.S. Marines have their way, the controversial V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor may soon be in the skies over Afghanistan.

The unique hybrid aircraft -- which combines the vertical landing capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed-wing plane -- made its combat debut in Iraq in late 2007. While not all has been rosy, the aircraft has served effectively as a VIP shuttle and troop transport. Even Presidential candidate Barack Obama got a ride during a 2008 fact-finding trip.

With the mission in Iraq winding down, Ospreys may now be heading to Afghanistan. 2nd Lt. Josh Diddams, a Marine Corps spokesman, told DANGER ROOM that as of yet no decision has been made to send a tiltrotor squadron to Afghanistan. But he added: "We wouldn't mind seeing them in Afghanistan, they're ideally suited for operating there."

If there is a requirement for Ospreys in Afghanistan, Diddams said, the Marines could support a deployment in the fall.

The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit is currently preparing to sail to the Middle East aboard the amphibious assault ship Bataan. Staff Sgt. Matthew Epright confirmed that the unit will deploy with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, marking the first time the Osprey will deploy with a Marine amphibious group. While it's not clear if the 10 Ospreys aboard the Bataan will deploy to Afghanistan, they will definitely be in the neighborhood.

[PHOTO: U.S. Department of Defense]

Ellie