Air Commandos and the Osprey

The CV-22 is probably Air Force Special Operations Command’s most sophisticated aircraft, Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster, AFSOC commander, told the audience at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., last week. AFSOC has 16 of the 50 CV-22s that it plans to acquire already in its inventory, he said. These tiltrotor platforms are flying faster, farther, and need less tanker support than older assets, he noted. Wurster said CV-22s are being pushed hard in operations in Afghanistan, which he described as “a terrible place to fly helicopters.” The dirt there is sharp and angular and chews up compressor blades, turbines, and other parts, he noted. He said he sees a brilliant future for the aircraft since AFSOC will pair it with other new capabilities, and the command is exploring beddown locations in both Europe and the Pacific. Once special operations forces are not concentrated in Southwest Asia in the numbers they are now, forward basing will become even more important as special operators continue to hunt high-value targets and work with allies all over the world, he said.