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VMM-263 Deployment

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  • VMM-263 Deployment

    This was sent to me by one of our squadron members.

    S/F Gary Alls
    HMM-263 '66-'67

    United States Marine Corps
    Division of Public Affairs
    Date: Thursday, June 14, 2007
    Contact: Media Branch
    Telephone: (703) 614-4309
    Osprey Deemed Ready for Deployment

    HEADQUARTERS MARINE CORPS - Yesterday it was announced that the Marine
    Corps' MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft achieved initial operational
    capability, (IOC), meaning that both the aircraft and the first combat
    squadron, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (VMM-263) are ready for
    expeditionary operations. IOC is considered the final major milestone for
    any defense acquisition program prior to fielding.
    Last month Gen. James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps, announced
    that the squadron is scheduled to deploy to Iraq in September with ten
    MV-22s. While there, Ospreys will be used for medium assault support
    missions ranging from troop transport and resupply to casualty evacuation.
    The MV-22 will eventually replace all CH-46E helicopters for the Marine

    Conditions required for the IOC decision include initial readiness of
    VMM-263, the requisite number of aircraft and equipment delivered to the
    squadron, confirmation of the combat configuration of the aircraft through
    operational testing, and a robust logistical support network to keep the
    aircraft ready for missions on deployment.

    The Osprey is the only operational aircraft in the world with the vertical
    lift capabilities of a helicopter, and the range, speed, altitude and
    payload of a fixed-wing airplane. The MV-22 can fly twice as fast, more than
    twice as high, and three to five times as far as the helicopters it will

    The Marine Corps conducted dedicated operational testing in February and
    March for the combat configuration of the aircraft, known as Block B.

    Marine Tiltrotor Test and Evaluation Squadron 22 (VMX-22) logged 185 flight
    hours with four aircraft in just 18 days, operating in the California and
    Arizona deserts. The Block B aircraft proved highly effective during its
    mission essential tasks.
    "The aircraft did very well. We were actually above our normal
    mission-capable averages for those three weeks," said Lt. Col. Denny
    Sherwood, VMX-22 aircraft maintenance officer. Maintenance resources and
    supplies were all in keeping with standard deployment planning, he said.
    "We had the aircraft we needed to accomplish all the missions despite the
    high op tempo."
    Those missions included assault raids, company insertions, recon insertions
    and extractions, casualty evacuations, tactical recovery of aircraft and
    personnel, noncombatant evacuation operations, and battlefield logistics.
    Missions involved fast rope and personnel hoist operations, external lift of
    the M-777 Lightweight Howitzer, live fire of the Ospreys' M-240D
    ramp-mounted machine guns, and 22 aerial refuelings. A third of the flying
    was done at night.

    Crews faced multiple ground threats day and night, to validate and refine
    the tactics, techniques and procedures for approaching objectives and
    reacting to threats. They also integrated operations with F/A-18 Hornets,
    AV-8 Harriers and AH-1 Cobras. For troop delivery and recovery missions, the
    MV-22s carried 22 to 24 Marines and their gear. Missions averaged 725
    nautical miles round trip, with the four VMX-22 aircraft logging a total of
    30,000 miles during the evaluation period.

    "We absolutely went out there and operated in a very operationally
    representative manner," said VMX-22 Commanding Officer Col. Keith Danel.
    "You name it, we did it, and the aircraft held up very well. And we operated
    it in a gritty, windy, austere environment, and maintained a very high

    The Marine Corps has extensive experience operating the Osprey in the
    desert, and Sherwood said many maintenance lessons have been learned along
    the way. Besides prior operational testing in the desert in 2004 and 2005,
    VMM-263 completed an extended training deployment to Naval Air Facility El
    Centro, Calif., in September and October 2006. The squadron is currently
    training at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. VMM-263's deployment will
    be followed by deployments for the second and third MV-22 combat squadrons,
    VMM-162 and VMM-266. The Marine Corps is establishing Osprey squadrons from
    former helicopter squadrons at a rate of about two per year.