MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. --
Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 entered a new era in aviation Saturday as the MV-22 “Osprey” landed to begin the replacement of the CH-46 “Sea Knight” and its 44-year legacy.
VMM-161 received its first Osprey Dec. 12 and is the first West Coast-based squadron to convert to the tilt-rotor platform.
“We are all very excited and pleased to have it here and to begin training on it,” said Lt. Col. Jason T. Keefer, the squadron’s executive officer.
With the Osprey’s arrival, VMM-161 began the transition from an aging fleet of medium-lift CH-46 “Sea Knights” to more operational aircraft as part of a Marine Corps-wide process.
The Osprey is a twin-engine, tilt-rotor aircraft with hover and slow flight capabilities that deliver range, speed and fuel efficiency. The aircraft can lift 15,000 pounds of external cargo or carry up to 20,000 pounds of internal cargo or 24 combat-equipped Marines.
The Osprey’s engines can rotate in mid-flight, converting the aircraft to a turboprop airplane that can fly at high speed and high altitudes. This feature provides the vertical functionality of a helicopter and the performance of a fixed-wing aircraft.
Pilots and crew who are already trained aid in the transition to the new platform, said Keefer.
A pilot’s training takes between six and eight months, with two months of simulation training required on the West Coast and two months of flight training on the East Coast at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C.
VMM-161 should receive 12 MV-22 Ospreys to complete the 19-month transition.