On July 12, two pilots, two airmen and Rear Adm. Roy Kelley, commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, flew from Virginia’s Naval Station Norfolk to Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina, marking the first time an all-Navy crew has flown an MV-22 Osprey.
Although brief, the flight telegraphed the future use of the Osprey, a workhorse of Marine aviation, as it shuttles sailors, supplies and spare parts to ships at sea.
The crew belonged to the Navy’s Airborne Command and Control and Logistics Wing’s Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron Detachment 204, according to USNI News.
Commanders like the Osprey because it can take off and land vertically but flies faster than a helicopter. In 2007, the Marines began swapping out their aging fleet of Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knights with the Ospreys.
The Air Force began fielding its Ospreys two years later.
In June, the Navy renegotiated a $4.2 billion contract with Bell Boeing to buy 39 Ospreys to replace 27 Grumman C-2A Greyhounds. Carriers have relied on the twin-engine planes for five decades.
The Navy’s Osprey program is expected to begin operating in 2021 and will be integrated into the aircraft fleet by the mid-2020s.
Noah Nash is a rising senior at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. At school, he is the editor in chief of the Collegian Magazine and the digital director of the Collegian, Kenyon's newspaper.