CV-22 aces three-part test
USAF 8th Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey perform a water operations exercise with Navy SEALs at Lake Jackson in Florala, Alabama
US Air Force, July 06, 2007 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. By Tech. Sgt. Kristina Newton, 1st SOW - The 8th Special Operations Squadron completed another mission to verify and prove the tactics, techniques and procedures of the CV-22 Osprey during a water operations exercise with Navy SEALs June 27-28 at Lake Jackson in Florala, Ala.
The mission was a three-part event with boat deployment, helocasting and live water hoist operations.
"The boat deployment exercise is when we have a boat, called a soft duck, in the cargo area and we are flying a low slow approach over the water," said Tech. Sgt. Chad Ackman, 8th SOS Training NCO-in-charge and a CV-22 flight engineer. "When we're at the correct speed and altitude, we drop the boat out the back."
The boat drop was made in helicopter mode at a height of 10 feet and a flight speed of 10 knots," Sergeant Ackman said.
Helocasting is basically the same thing except the team in the back of the aircraft jumps in the water right after the boat is deployed," he said.
The final part of the mission was to do a live water hoisting exercise.
Senior Master Sgt. Scott Marston, a flight engineer and the 8th SOS superintendent, was manning the hoist during the event.
"The scenario was to pick up an injured survivor and a rescue swimmer," Sergeant Marston said. "We deployed the penetrator and recovered the individuals."
The hoist moves very quickly, at about 300 feet per minute," Marston said. "The swimmers were only in the water a matter of seconds once we deployed the penetrator and the aircraft was extremely stable during the mission."
The CV-22 is great in this role because it can fly farther and faster than a helicopter," he said.
The purpose of the validation is to prove the CV-22s ability in water operations and help build training programs for future aircrews.
"We'll use the knowledge gained during the validation exercise to create new training plans for all future aircrews on the best way to accomplish these types of operations," Sergeant Ackman said.
The missions aren't only for the crew in the back; the crew members on the flight deck also gain experience and knowledge from these exercises.
"Flying 10 feet above the water isn't really a big deal," said Capt. Paul Alexander, 1st Special Operations Group CV-22 branch chief and an experienced MH-53 and Chinook pilot.
"But the unique characteristic of the CV-22 rotor design creates rotor wash off the nose and tail at 100 knots per hour; this causes the water to move away from you so it appears as if you are flying backwards.
"That's why we use a heads down hover display, it helps us keep awareness of our actual position - such as velocity drift and altitude," he said.
The crew of the CV-22 has a mixed background of flight experience from helicopters to fixed wing aircraft. But the things expressed by all three crewmembers were this aircraft was extremely capable, very stable and also easy to fly.
"Our customer feed back has been better than expected," Captain Alexander said. "Working with the aircraft has alleviated their original concerns about size and maneuverability."
The first CV-22 belonging to the 8th SOS arrived on base in November and progress with the tactics, techniques and procedures verification has been steady.
The 8th SOS recently completed high altitude, low opening parachute operations with the Army Golden Knights during the Special Operations Forces Week at MacDill Air Force Base, and they plan on doing some shipboard operations with the Navy in the near future.
"Everything is going well, the aircraft has been wonderful," Sergeant Ackman said. "I love the CV-22; I think it's a great airplane."
Bell CV-22B Osprey 05-0028 ( US Air Force )
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