Marines' Osprey aircraft to be visible in skies over Hawaii
Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Lesley Jones prepares to direct an MV-22 Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166 (Reinforced) aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer on July 31, 2013.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
HONOLULU — The Marine Corps’ distinctive MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft will make its first appearance Wednesday over Hawaii as the USS Boxer Amphibious Ready Group heads through the region on a deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle East, officials said.
The 57-foot-long aircraft have twin 38-foot propellers that allow the Osprey to take off like a helicopter and fly like a conventional plane with the blades rotated forward. Ospreys can carry 24 Marines twice as fast and five times farther than helicopters.
The aircraft should be visible flying Wednesday, although exactly where they will be flying still is being worked out, the Marine Corps said.
By Thursday, four of the aircraft will be on the flight line at the Marine Corps Base at Kaneohe Bay.
The aircraft may also be visible in the islands Friday and Saturday as well, the Corps said.
The Boxer, New Orleans and Harpers Ferry, with 2,400 Marines from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, left San Diego on Friday for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.
The Boxer is the first West Coast ship to deploy with the Ospreys, the Navy said.
A spokesman for Navy Region Hawaii said the three ships will be in the vicinity of Hawaii, but will not make a port stop.
Lt. Gen. Terry Robling, commander of Marine Forces Pacific, said in January that two squadrons of Ospreys, a total of 24 aircraft, are scheduled to be based at Kaneohe Bay in fiscal 2015 and 2016.
The Navy conducted an environmental impact statement examining the basing of 24 Ospreys, 15 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and 12 UH-1 Huey utility helicopters at Kaneohe Bay.
About 1,000 active-duty personnel and 1,106 dependents will be associated with the new aircraft basing, the Navy said. Some Cobra and Huey helicopters and the squadron members who operate them already are in Hawaii.
Noise has long been a concern for Kaneohe Bay residents, and the increased helicopter activity will be balanced against the Navy’s apparent decision to base 18 P-8A Poseidon surveillance and submarine-hunting jets at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state instead of the Marine Corps Base.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, a Democrat from Washington state, said in May that Whidbey would be getting additional P-8As “from a canceled plan to base three fleet squadrons in Hawaii.” Larsen said in a news release that he had been briefed on Navy strategic plans outlining the change.
The environmental impact statement for the helicopter and Osprey basing said the highest noise levels would be on base, a portion of Coconut Island and the tip of Kealohi Point, at Heeia State Park.
A total of nearly 8,000 Osprey flights and more than 14,000 flights by the new helicopters are expected annually, but the report said jet aircraft, including visiting F/A-18 Hornets and Air Force C-17 cargo carriers that use the runway for practice, would continue to be the “primary contributors to noise.”