Kaneohe MarinesBy Gregg K. Kakesako
to replace older
aircraft with Ospreys
Unless the weekend crash of the MV-22 Osprey helicopter halts the future production of the revolutionary aircraft, Marine aviators at Kaneohe are supposed to get 36 of them to replacing aging Sea Stallions in 2007.
Maj. Jeff Nyhart, Marine Corps spokesman, said the five helicopter squadrons at Kaneohe Bay now fly 40 CH-53D Sea Stallions.
"We are the only Marine squadrons to fly the Sea Stallions," Nyhart said. "We are supposed to be the one of the last squadrons to get the Ospreys."
Nyhart said 36 Ospreys will be phased into operation at Kaneohe Bay between 2007 and 2009. There are now about 1,200 Marine Corps aviators and support crew members stationed at Kaneohe.
"There could be a slight gain in personnel," Nyhart said.
Nineteen Marines were killed Saturday in Arizona when the tiltrotor aircraft crashed. Gen. James Jones, Marine Corps commandant, has placed a temporary halt to flying Ospreys, but a Pentagon spokesman said the halt was out of respect for the families and flying would resume in the next couple of days.
The Marines so far have received only five of the 360 Ospreys they ordered. The Osprey flies like a plane, but lands like a helicopter.
The last Osprey is supposed to be delivered in 2014. It was to begin squadron service within two years, first replacing CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters.
The MV-22 has twice the speed, three times the range and four times the payload of the Sea Knight -- which is currently the Marine Corps troop transport.
The first prototype was flown in 1989. Two other Ospreys -- named for a diving bird of prey -- have crashed. The most recent was in July 1992 where seven people were killed near Quantico, Va. The other occurred in 1991 at the Boeing Helicopter Flight Test Center in Wilmington, Del.
The Navy plans to buy 48 and the Air Force, 50.