Ospreys Are Back, Smiling

Ospreys Are Back, Smiling: All four Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22 Ospreys have returned to their home at Hurlburt Field, Fla., from Exercise Flintlock, a US Africa Command exercise in the Trans-Saharan region. It was thefirst overseas deployment for the new AFSOC aircraft and the enterprise “went above and beyond everyone’s expectations,” said Capt. Dennis Woodlief, one of the 8th Special Operations Squadron pilots on the deployment. He added, “We had zero maintenance cancels, zero delays, and we executed 100 percent every time.” As to the CV-22’s operational prowess, Lt. Col. Eric Hill, 8th SOS commander, said the “tyranny of distance in the African continent” presented no problem for the Ospreys. He explained: “We were able to go over 500 nautical miles, infiltrate a small team for them to run their exercise, and bring them back all the way to home base without doing an air refueling stop. And, we were able to do that in the span of about four hours.” Woodlief added, “It would take the MH-53 [helicopter] twice, sometimes three times as long.” Joining the 8th SOS on the deployment was the 1st Special Operations Helicopter Maintenance Squadron, which had to bring enough parts and equipment to sustain the CV-22s at the exercise’s remote location. “We have a laundry list about three pages long of things we’d like to take next time,” said MSgt. Craig Kornely, lead production supervisor, noting that the unit must “grow into the machine.” Acknowledging the team “learned some lessons,” Hill declared, “There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing [your squadron] take a revolutionary capability out on its first deployment, have hug mission success, meet every mission task, and, most importantly, bring everybody back to home base safely.” (Hurlburt report by 1st Lt. Lauren Johnson)