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An MV-22B Osprey from VMM-161 sets sight on its landing pad aboard the USS Anchorage April 30. VMM-161 is in Alaska to support the the USS Anchorage and be a static display during public tours before the ship's commissioning ceremony on May 4.

Photo by Sgt. Frances Johnson

3rd MAW Ospreys take flight for Alaska

8 May 2013 | Sgt Frances Johnson

For the first time, the Corps’ youngest aircraft and the Navy’s newest ship met just off the Alaskan shore, April 30. 
An MV-22B Osprey from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161, the first west coast squadron of MV-22B’s, flew out to meet the USS Anchoarge before it cruised into its Alaskan namesake port.

Since its arrival, the Osprey’s technology has transformed the military's combat-assault support capabilities. The versatility of the Osprey surpasses the capabilities of the CH-46 it replaced, being able to fly safely at faster speeds and higher altitudes with less fuel, it has proven itself highly equipped for combat and non-combat operations- but its new mission in Alaska was a little different

The Osprey landed aboard the vessel for support during its public tours and the ships commissioning ceremony May 4.  The Marine Corps sent a few aircraft as static displays for the public tours on the USS Anchorage, which served as an opportunity to teach people about the Osprey and display its capabilities.

“We got a lot of questions [during public tours] about how safe the air craft is,” said Capt. Dustin Kerlin, MV-22B Osprey Pilot, VMM-161.  “We were able to clear the air of the negative reputation the aircraft has.  It’s a good aircraft, [the squadron] can be counted on.”

The flight from MCAS Miramar, Calif. to Anchorage, Alaska was a record setting 2,330 miles for the west coast squadron and the first time MV22Bs were ever in Alaska.

“We’re the first ospreys to come up to Alaska,” said Staff Sgt. John Vansant, Maintenance Control, VMM-161.  “Bringing our aircraft up here is good training and we got to show it off and let [the public] get on the aircraft.”

Though the Osprey still has a few pessimistic critics, VMM-161 is positive and ready to show how beneficial their aircraft is for the Marine Corps

“It brings so many capabilities and gives the Marine Corps a larger flexibility in what we can do,” said Vansant.  “It’s still a phenomenal asset during peacetime, we can tailor the aircraft to different missions as needed; cargo, auxiliary fuel, disaster relief.  In my opinion it represents the future of Marine Corps aviation.”

3rd Marine Aircraft Wing