The 8th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., on Nov. 16 received its first operational CV-22 Osprey, ushering in a new era for Air Force SOF. The unit will get five of the first nine production Ospreys, giving the 8th its first aircraft with a “self-deploying capability” that Lt. Col. Eric Hill, 8th SOS operations chief, says will mean immediate mission response. “We can just up and fly as-is with no tear down or transport necessary,” added Hill. The unit’s helicopters must be broken down and transported via cargo aircraft.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.