US tilt-rotor support aircraft arrive in NT for annual rotation of US marines

by | Apr 20, 2022 | News Brief | 0 comments

A squadron of Bell-Boeing V22 Osprey support aircraft is now in the Northern Territory in support of the upcoming Marine Rotational Force (MRF) based in Darwin.

V22 Ospreys (branded as Red Dragons) are a multi-mission tilt-rotor aircraft capable of both vertical takeoff and landing. It combines the functionality of a helicopter with the long-range, high-speed performance of an aircraft.

The squadron will join thousands of Marines to train with the Australian Defence Forces in the Top End during the upcoming dry season.

The MRF-D has grown in size since the first rotation of 200 US Marines through Darwin in 2012, through to reaching the milestone of 2,500 Marines in 2019. It is now a highly capable force providing significant opportunities to enhance interoperability with the ADF.

MRF-D sees a contingent of US Marines and their equipment rotate through the NT during the dry season. The force undertakes a range of activities, combined exercises and training with the ADF and regional partners.

The MRF could also be called on to carry out humanitarian assistance, evacuation and military operations in the region. Darwin’s geographical location just south of more than a dozen Asian countries, including some of the world’s busiest shipping routes makes it a strategic stepping-off point.

“The Red Dragons are excited to join 5th Marines as part of the MRF-D 2022 rotation,” said Lieutenant Colonel Vanessa Clark, Marine’s aviation combat element commanding officer.

“Honoured to be working hand in hand with the ADF, the importance of the US-Australian team cannot be overstated.”

Popularized in movies due to their versatility, Ospreys have been used by the US military for more than three decades in air assaults, personnel and cargo transport, evacuation and humanitarian operations.

The 75 metre-long Hawaii-based Ospreys are capable of hauling 100 tonnes of equipment over 10,000 km in and out of the NT from a marine base in Japan.

The squadron has previously supported military operations during both the gulf war and the war on terrorism.

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