By: Mike Yeo
ROCKHAMPTON, Australia — Five years after its arrival in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, the Boeing MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor is proving to be an integral part of operations for forward-deployed U.S. Marines in the region.
Defense News went on board the U.S. Navy helicopter assault ship Bonhomme Richard during the recently concluded exercise Talisman Saber in Australia, where the Osprey played a major role in supporting the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and other elements taking part in the exercise.
The Bonhomme Richard carried 12 Ospreys from the “Dragons” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 265 at the exercise, while the Marines of the 31st MEU were spread among the three ships of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group, made up of the amphibious dock landing ship Ashland and amphibious transport dock ship Green Bay.
According to VMM-265 pilot Capt. Charles Randolph, the Osprey’s main role at Talisman Saber was troop transport for ground assaults, operating either from the ships or as part of shore-based detachments. This included combined air assaults with U.S. Army and Australian helicopter assets also at the exercise, with the Osprey’s speed used to good effect to move troops around when conducting rapid flanking maneuvers on the ground.
Randolph praised the Australian forces with whom the Marines exercised, telling Defense News that “everything that we‘ve been doing with the Australians — extremely professional, they’re highly knowledgeable and very good at what they do.” The pilot also reveled in the vastness of the training areas available where the Ospreys “have lots of room to maneuver, and it lets us use the aircraft to maximize its capabilities” compared to the smaller and more restrictive training areas in Japan.
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