OKINAWA, Japan - The first MV-22B Ospreys to be based on Okinawa landed at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Oct. 1.
The Ospreys are with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
The arrival of the Osprey marks the beginning of the phasing out of the CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters currently stationed on Okinawa.
“We are moving forward and saying goodbye to the CH-46E helicopter and bringing in an aircraft with extended range that can support an entire Marine Air-Ground Task Force,” said Lt. Col. William L. DePue Jr., commanding officer of VMM-265. “As a former CH-46 pilot, it is sad to see the CH-46E go, but the increase in capability the MV-22B Osprey brings is a critical improvement for the Marine Corps.”
The MV-22B represents a large increase in capability, operational reach and flexibility, and basing the aircraft on Okinawa is critical to III MEF operations in the Asia-Pacific region, according to DePue.
“The Osprey will change the way we operate during humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief operations,” said Maj. Joshua T. Fraser, the operations officer for VMM-265 who landed the first MV-22B on Okinawa. “This aircraft will really show what we are capable of out here with the extended range and speed.”
In addition to its extended operational capability, the Osprey allows for greater volumes of troop and cargo transport.
“The Osprey can land anywhere and in any terrain, giving it a much better mission capability,” said DePue.
The Osprey’s capabilities will allow the Marine Corps to safely respond to any crisis, according to DePue.
“I have been flying the Osprey for a decade now, and it is one of the safest aircraft I have ever flown,” said DePue. “It is a very self-aware aircraft. The monitoring system on board is unlike any other. It will let us know if anything is wrong well before it becomes a problem.”
This day will be remembered as a leap forward for the Marine Corps in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Fraser.
Basing the Osprey on Okinawa significantly strengthens the United States’ ability to provide for the defense of Japan, perform humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, and fulfill other U.S.-Japan alliance roles.