Making the long journey from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard USS Bataan in the Indian Ocean to the Bastion Airfield in the Helmand desert, the 10 tiltrotor aircraft are the first of their kind to operate in Afghanistan.
The unique design of the Osprey allows for not only vertical takeoff, but conversion to fixed-wing flight at much faster speeds than helicopters.
“I am very excited to have these new birds here,” said Lt. Col. William Depue, executive officer for Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced), adding that the aircraft’s increased speed and range will “cut the size of the area of operations in half.”
The Ospreys, which formed the bulk of VMM-263 (Rein) with the 22nd MEU will join Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 as part of MEB-Afghanistan’s aviation combat element, Marine Aircraft Group 40.
“Although we are not the Marines who will operate these birds here, we were happy to be a part of getting them into theater,” said Depue.
The Ospreys will be used for medium-lift assault support, transporting troops and cargo throughout the MEB’s area of operations, and will augment the other fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft that have worked tirelessly since the MEB’s arrival in Afghanistan in May, flying more than 19,000 hours.