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The ground breaking Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is a tiltrotor transport aircraft which has the capability to operate and hover as a helicopter whilst also fly and perform like an aircraft due to the ability to rotate its engine nacelles from the horizontal to the vertical. Originally flying in 1989 and entering service in 2007, this new concept was subject to an intensive development campaign before entering production and can trace its lineage to the Bell XV-15 of the early 1980s. Currently three versions of the V-22 Osprey are in production, the MV-22B for the US MC and the Japanese Ground Self Defence Forces, the CV-22B for the USAF, and most recently the CMV-22B for the US Navy which features an enlarged fuselage and will replace the C-2 Greyhound Carrier on-board delivery aircraft.
The USAF Special Operations Command has operated the CV-22B since 2006. The aircraft are configured for low level insertion and extraction of special operations teams behind enemy lines and can be refuelled in mid-air by the MC-130 family of special operations Hercules. Early in 2022, the USAF used the CV-22B to evacuate high value US diplomats from Ukraine at the beginning of the Russian invasion. A total fleet of 51 CV-22s will be operated by the USAF.
The 7th Special Operations Squadron of the 352nd Special Operations Wing based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk will be sending a pair of the CV-22B Ospreys to RIAT 2023. One aircraft will appear on static display whilst a second will fly a special aerial refuelling demonstration alongside a MC-130J Command II also from the 352nd as part of our SKYTANKER theme on Saturday and Sunday before performing a solo display. Photo Credit: Rich Cooper