Al Asad, Iraq --
Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 4 and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 worked together to complete an external lift resupply mission utilizing the MV-22 Osprey Jan. 18.
Three MV-22 Ospreys transported a total of 32,000 pounds of food, water, clean laundry and mail from Al Qaim to landing zone Da Nang in the Al Anbar province.
According to Maj. John W. Spaid, a MV-22 pilot and assistant operations officer with VMM-263, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, the mission was significant because it was the first external lift assault support request assigned to VMM-263 in a combat zone.
“We did conduct one training mission to be prepared, but this is the first mission anybody has done in Iraq,” said 1st Lt. Dan Hinkson, executive officer of Transportation Support Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 3rd Marine Logistics Group.
According to Hinkson, in a counter insurgency environment, air resupply mitigates convoy requirements, exposing fewer servicemembers in this area of operations to improvised explosive device threats.
Typically, CLB-4 uses the CH-53E Super Stallion or CH-46E Sea Knight for air resupplies. Though the MV-22 is rated to carry less weight on an external lift mission than a CH-53E, it makes up for its weight limit with versatility and speed.
According to Lance Cpl. Mitchell A. Kronwinkler, a Helicopter Support Team Marine with CLB-4, the MV-22 gets to the loading zone faster than traditional rotor airframes.
“This airframe is particularly suited for remote locations,” said Spaid, a former CH-46E pilot. “If you have a forward operating base far away from our FOB, we can get out there quickly to do the mission.”
The MV-22 flies the same speed as other helicopters while in conversion mode with a load, but return to the pick-up site much faster, lifting more loads out in a shorter period of time, added Hinkson.
Marines from HST work together to accomplish external lift missions. Their duties include inspecting and preparing the cargo nets, slings and pre-staging all HST gear used. They also fill up the water containers, pick up and load all supplies to be airlifted then coordinate with the logistics Marines, air chief and landing zone ground team to ensure everyone is on the same page.
“They weigh, rig and stage loads, conduct pre-mission inspections and safety briefs,” said Hinkson. “During the mission, we focus heavily on safety. It is dangerous under the aircraft and the risk of static shock is high. Everyone is focused and we look out for one another.”
Though this was the first external lift resupply mission in combat for the Osprey, the landing support Marines with CLB-4 continue to look forward to working with the MV-22 in the future.
“It is a great experience for the Marines,” said Hinkson. “My goal is to get all of my Marines under the Osprey during our deployment.”