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Braving a storm: Marines rig the Osprey for external lift

8 Nov 2011 | Pfc. Timothy Childers

As the aircraft hovers, creating 125 mile per hour winds equivalent to a category three huricane, the sand and dirt below blows in every direction as Marines from Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, trained for air-lifts here, Nov. 8. The Marines repeatedly rigged a 1,500-pound cement block, simulating a resupply load, to the bottom of one of two MV-22 Ospreys.
The process of rigging equipment to an Osprey requires the aircraft to hover over the landing zone and drop its tow cable. The Marines on the ground must first ground the cable using a static wand before they rig the load. The constant vibration of the cable generates static electricity that can severely injure Marines or even detonate ordnance. Once the cable is grounded, Marines attach the load and quickly exit the landings zone. The Osprey then lifts off and circles around to drop off the load and repeat the process.
According to Boeing Defense, Space and Security, the V-22 Osprey is a joint service combat aircraft that utilizes tilt-rotor technology to combine the vertical performance of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed wing aircraft. The Osprey can take off, land and hover like a helicopter. Once airborne, its rotors can be rotated, allowing it to accomplish high-speed and high-altitude flight. The Osprey can transport 24 combat troops, 15,000 pounds of external and 20,000 pounds of internal cargo
“Landing support specialists are faced with a number of variables that complicate the job at hand,” said Cpl. Francisco N. Tomassini, landing support specialist, Landing Support Company, CLR-17, 1st MLG. “There’s always something happening. Because the aircraft has twin rotors, there’s no calm area, similar to the eye of a tornado, as there would be under a helicopter. The rotors create a downdraft that constantly changes direction. It makes it very difficult for us stay upright and rig the load.”
This was the first HST training for some of the Marines, Tomassini added. The training is very important to prepare Marines for actual operations in combat and in garrison. The Marines conduct HST training multiple times so in case something goes wrong, they can learn from the mistake and prevent it from happening again.
“The exercises are not only for Marines to train, but for the pilots as well,” said Cpl. Johnny Barron, landing support specialist, Landing Support Co., CLR-17, 1st MLG, “Many of the pilots have little experience in HST exercises, so we both benefit from the experience.”
The constant training puts landing support Marines a step ahead of the game and the excitement they get working with the MV-22 Ospreys gives them an appreciation for their jobs.
“It’s a thrill!” said Tomassini. “Having the huge aircraft hover above you is exciting, and knowing that we can support Marines in the field is the best feeling ever.”
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