Osprey headed to Afghanistan
In a briefing yesterday at the Pentagon, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway said the controversial V-22 Osprey will soon be deployed to Afghanistan.The Osprey will be even better for operations if Afghanistan that it has been in Iraq. It is the craft that was needed there when the war began. I have not been following the next generation truck, but I am not surprised it came in too heavy. The Marines will try a work around.
The Osprey, Conway said, “is purposefully headed towards Afghanistan.”
As we reported here previously, the gradual winding down of the mission in Iraq may free up the Osprey for an Afghanistan deployment. The V-22 made its combat debut in Iraq, where it served primarily as a troop transport. Conway praised the Osprey — which takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter, but flies with the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft — for its ability to “shrink the battlespace” in Iraq. “One of my commanders in Iraq compared it — being able to turn Texas into a place the size of Rhode Island,” he said.
In Afghanistan, the Ospreys will be taking on the job being performed by the Marines’ Vietnam-vintage CH-46 Sea Knight medium-lift helos. The Sea Knight fleet is aging rapidly, and has limitations in its range and power; having an Osprey squadron could expand the capabilities of the Marines in southern Afghanistan. “In all probability we will retain an Osprey capability there for as long as we have Marines there,” Conway said.
While Conway was enthusiastic about the V-22, he did not have kind words for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.
The Army and the Marine Corps want a next-generation truck that will be tricked out with the latest in vehicle survivability and electronics. But Conway complained that the vehicle designs being forwarded by industry were simply too heavy to be useful. “If it comes in at the weight where it is right now, the Marine Corps simply cannot get involved, will not buy a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle that’s 20,000 pounds,” he said. “It doesn’t fit our expeditionary kind of capacity. We can’t carry it in our helicopters or even sling it. And so we’ve got to have something lighter than that.”