Sailors Get Experience With Marine MV-22s Before Operating First Navy Ospreys

 In Sea, Middle East, U.S. Marine Corps, Forces & Capabilities, U.S. Navy

A CMV-22B Osprey, attached to the Blackjack of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two One (HX-21), flies near the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD-21) on July 18, 2020. US Navy Photo

An over­seas deploy­ment with Marines is giving some of the Navy’s first crews that will oper­ate its new cargo-deliv­ery fleet of CMV-22B Osprey air­craft hands-on expe­ri­ence with tiltro­tor tech­nol­o­gy and oper­a­tions.

Ten air­craft main­tain­ers and one naval avi­a­tor from Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron 30 are deployed with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis-Response-Central Command 20.2, flying, oper­at­ing and main­tain­ing MV-22B Osprey tiltro­tors in the Persian Gulf region.

The Navy is work­ing to have its Osprey ready for a first oper­a­tional deploy­ment aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) next year in tandem with the first oper­a­tional deploy­ment of the F‑35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter. Last year, the ser­vice began inte­grat­ing VRM-30 per­son­nel with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 (Reinforced) to get them expe­ri­ence with the Osprey and help devel­op their qual­i­fi­ca­tions and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions to oper­ate the air­craft.

The Navy will replace its C‑2A Greyhound – the back­bone of its car­ri­er onboard deliv­ery (COD) fleet since the first models in the mid-1960s – with the slight­ly larger CMV-22B Osprey, mod­i­fied from the Marines’ vari­ant to include a public-address system and better light­ing for pas­sen­gers. VRM-30, which is based at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., received its first CMV-22B in June. The Navy plans to pro­cure 44 air­craft, with initial operational capability in 2021, accord­ing to Naval Air Systems Command.

A total of 21 Navy per­son­nel with VRM-30’s “Titans” integrated in late 2019 with VMM-166 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego for follow-on train­ing. Eleven of them vol­un­teered for the SPMAGTF deploy­ment.

“It’s been a seam­less inte­gra­tion,” Marine Lt. Col. James “Johnny” Ford, who com­mands the “Sea Elks” of VMM-166 and SPMAGTF’s air combat ele­ment, said by phone from Kuwait. The Special Purpose MAGTF is led by the com­mand ele­ment of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and, on the year­long deploy­ment, serves as the go-to force for U.S. Central Command for quick respons­es to crises and con­tin­gen­cies in the Middle East, if needed.

“They’re get­ting a lot of great expe­ri­ence out there,” Ford said of the VRM-30 detach­ment work­ing mostly from the SPMAGTF’s air­base in Kuwait. In recent months, the sailors have flown and oper­at­ed MV-22B Ospreys off sev­er­al ships in the Persian Gulf region, includ­ing expe­di­tionary sea base USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB‑3).

“We’ve gotten flight expe­ri­ence at all times of the day,” said Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class Jordan Hall. “I got fully qual­i­fied for night oper­a­tions out here, so I can take that for­ward as well and use that expe­ri­ence to teach my sailors.”

Hall is also one of the first, if not the first, Navy V‑22 crew chief to earn his combat air­crew wings, and earned his Fleet Marine Force war­fare badge that’s cov­et­ed among Marines, Ford said. “We are very proud of him.”

The VRM-30 detach­ment has a mix of flight expe­ri­ences. The senior offi­cer is a C‑2 Greyhound pilot who’s tran­si­tioned to the Osprey. One crew chief flew with a light pas­sen­ger-and-cargo C‑12 unit and sev­er­al junior sailors are fresh off ini­tial avi­a­tion train­ing get­ting their first oper­a­tional hands-on expe­ri­ence with the tiltro­tor air­craft.

For Hall, the MV-22B is “a total­ly dif­fer­ent air­craft” than Navy heli­copters and the C‑12 tur­bo­prop he’s recent­ly worked with. “Flying is pretty much like a heli­copter, not quite an air­plane at the same time,” he said of the Osprey. “There’s def­i­nite­ly a few lessons in my pre­vi­ous train­ing, habits that I had to let go of as I got expe­ri­ence and learned more about this air­craft.”

“I’ve taken a lot of the lessons learned and the oper­a­tional expe­ri­ence out here … back and I’m going to share all of that expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge” with his VRM-30 squadron mates, he added.

The squadron of Marines and sailors have stayed busy work­ing during the deploy­ment, work­ing a 12 hours on, 12 hours off daily sched­ule, Ford said, and sailors still were able to attain impor­tant cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and qual­i­fi­ca­tions. “They’ve gained a lot of expe­ri­ence out here, both oper­a­tional­ly and in the main­te­nance side,” he said. “They made two safe-for-flights (qual­i­fi­ca­tions), five col­lat­er­al duty/quality assur­ance inspec­tors, seven col­lat­er­al-duty inspec­tors, and then a host of higher qual­i­fi­ca­tions.”

“It’s been mutu­al­ly-ben­e­fi­cial for them to join us,” he added. “They’ve filled some man­pow­er gaps and direct­ly sup­port­ed the crisis-response mis­sion.”

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Yeargin, a vet­er­an C‑2 pilot also with VRM-30, filled the posi­tion of ACE exec­u­tive offi­cer for about three months “and helped push along the naval inte­gra­tion,” Ford said. They worked togeth­er through sort­ing out some dif­fer­ences such as with naval admin­is­tra­tion, “but we both learned a lot. It went very well.”

“It’s been a great expe­ri­ence having the sailors with us,” Ford added. “They did every­thing the Marines did to get ready for the deploy­ment.”

USNI source|articles

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