US Marine Corps, January 03, 2013 - MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C by Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki - Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 366 and Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467 are scheduled to return to Marine Corps Air Station New River in 2014, pending the completion of a new hangar complex that recently broke ground. When Osprey squadrons with Marine Aircraft Group 26 move into the new hangars, HMH-366 and HMLA-467 will take over the hangars the Osprey squadrons vacated.
Moving the squadrons from Cherry Point to New River and geographically collocating all MAG-29 squadrons will streamline operations for the units and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. Maj. Jeff Hubley, the executive officer of HMH-366, said simply being closer to the squadrons’ New River-based storage facilities will improve efficiency.
“The logistics piece is what we struggle the most with because our parts warehouse is 50 miles away, and we rely on ground transportation to do up to three runs a day to bring us the stuff we need,” said Hubley. “It would be easier to just run down the street to get something if we needed it.”
Hubley said the current maintenance system is working, but would be simplified by the move. Turnaround time on aircraft maintenance will be reduced from eight hours to about two, and the Marine Corps will save a significant amount of time and resources.
The new building that will house the Osprey squadrons is estimated to cost $141 million and will house 48 MV-22B Ospreys – every aircraft belonging to four Osprey squadrons.
“It’s going to be the largest Marine Corps building on the East Coast,” said Doss Comer, the facilities manager for New River.
Comer is a retired lieutenant colonel who flew CH-46 Sea Knights out of New River for 14 years. During his entire time there, New River has been one hangar short of providing space for all deployable squadrons.
To compensate, squadrons were “hot seated,” meaning as one squadron moved out of a hangar for a deployment, a squadron returning from deployment moved in. Squadrons that did not fit were headquartered at Cherry Point.
“It’s a major capital improvement for New River,” said Comer. “The squadrons were all supposed to be here anyway, but we didn’t have room for them. This is just to make room for them.”