INDIAN OCEAN – During the dynamic amphibious landing on the Northern Territory shores of Australia as part of Talisman Sabre 2015, a huge range of men and material was moved quickly across one of the most challenging transition areas in the world; from the unforgiving sea to a contested shore.
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, with partners the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Defense Force, used a wide-range of technology to move personnel and equipment from ship to shore for the exercise on July 11. The aerial lynchpin of this effort is the U.S. tiltrotor, the MV-22 Osprey.
The Bell Boeing V-22 (MV-22 is the Marine Corps variant) is a joint-service, multi-mission aircraft introduced in February of 2007 to replace the Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter, which flew its last service flight with the U.S. Marine Corps in May 2015. Like the CH-46, the MV-22 is a medium-lift vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. Unlike the CH-46, which is a conventional helicopter using tandem rotor blades to provide the additional thrust capability of a medium-lift helicopter; the MV-22 uses large proprotors mounted on rotating nacelles to the wings. The wings and nacelle-mounted proprotors give the MV-22 the unique capability to perform VTOL missions as effectively as a helicopter while having the long-range cruise abilities of a twin turboprop aircraft.
“It is a thrill to watch these birds (MV-22) lift off from the flight deck day-after-day,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate, Handling 3rd Class Devyn Brower, a Landing Signals Enlisted, from Dundee, Florida, assigned to forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD6). “I get to stand right in front of the Ospreys to help the pilots launch safely, and it awesome to see these aircraft in action up close.”
When one of these impressive aircraft claws its way into the sky the flight deck crews must lean low into the enormous thrust of wind caused by the rotors as it tries to blow them backward, until at last, the aircraft frees itself from the ship’s flight deck and banks out and up into the sky.
The MV-22 lifts a gross loaded weight of almost 20,000 lbs off the flight deck and carries 24 passengers at a cruise speed of over 280 knots, with a combat radius of more than 325 nautical miles. The MV-22’s abilities to launch from a short runway or vertically, carry heavy loads and refuel in the air make it the perfect aircraft for amphibious assault ship like Bonhomme Richard to deliver over the horizon capability to amphibious forces.
Bonhomme Richard is the lead ship of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) which is comprised of Bonhomme Richard, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), the embarked 31st MEU, and the guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88). The ESG is currently in the Indian Ocean participating in Talisman Sabre, a bilateral exercise intended to train Australian and U.S. forces in planning and conducting combined task force operations.