Monday, November 09, 2009

Ospreys Launch From Bataan to Support OEF

An MV-22B Osprey from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 263 (Reinforced), 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), takes off from the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5). The aircraft were flown to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, where they will be transferred to VMM-261 and used to support the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. This is the first time the aircraft will be used in Afghanistan. The 22nd MEU is serving as the theater reserve force for U.S. Central Command. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Second Class Julio Rivera/Released)

By Bataan Amphibious Ready Group/22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit Public Affairs

USS BATAAN, At sea (NNS) -- The multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) launched 10 MV-22B Ospreys from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit to fly into Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, Nov. 6, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The aircraft, part of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced), will be transferred to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 and serve as part of 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade's Aviation Combat Element.

The 22nd MEU was the first Marine Expeditionary Unit to conduct a ship-based deployment with the tiltrotor aircraft. VMM-263 (Rein) attached to the MEU in September, 2008, and was also the first squadron to deploy with the aircraft to Iraq in 2007.

"It is a great honor for us to support 2nd MEB, and we are proud to be the first unit to bring this aircraft into Afghanistan," said Col. Gareth F. Brandl, 22nd MEU commanding officer. "We have spent more than a year working with the MV-22B and know that the added capabilities this aircraft brings will benefit the Marines currently engaged against the enemy."

"This historic mission has been one of the highlights of our deployment," said Capt. Sam Howard, Bataan's commanding officer. "We did all we could to make sure they had all the material and logistic support necessary to have a safe and successful fly-off."

The Ospreys launched in three waves making the 510 nautical mile flight in just over two hours. During the aircraft's first amphibious deployment, it flew in support of theater security cooperation events in three countries, including U.S. Central Command's largest exercise, Bright Star 2009 in Egypt.

The Osprey was also used to conduct multiple medical evacuations from ship to shore and was employed to conduct logistics flights to Rota, Spain; Naval Air Station, Sigonella (Sicily); Djibouti, Africa and Bahrain. For more than a month, the squadron supported desert training when the MEU trained ashore in Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

"The men and women of the squadron performed admirably in support of this mission," said Lt. Col. Paul P. Ryan, commanding officer of VMM-263. "I am convinced that this weapon system will serve the operating forces well for decades to come."

Ryan added that the MEU has learned a great deal about operating with the Osprey and has captured lessons learned throughout the deployment to support future tiltrotor squadrons as they begin to deploy with other MEUs.

The 22nd MEU, led by Brandl, is a scalable, multipurpose force of more than 2,200 Marines and Sailors. The unit is composed of its Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22 and its Command Element.

The Bataan ARG is composed of the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), the amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 6, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, ACU 4 and Beachmaster Unit (BMU) 2.

The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, with the 22nd MEU embarked, deployed May 13, 2009 to conduct maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations.