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VMX-22 conducts first test run with WTI

By Pfc. M. Daniel Sanchez | | October 13, 2006

Marine Tiltrotor Test and Evaluation Squadron 22 conducted its first full-combat simulation exercises with the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course here Oct. 13.

VMX-22 arrived on station Oct. 12 with two MV-22s, one “Block B” and one “Block A”, from Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., for two days of training with WTI.

The squadron was also here for two weeks in late August to test a new ramp-mounted weapon system for the aircraft. This time the squadron was no longer testing any single component, but the entire aircraft in fullblown combat simulations.

“This was a small scale evolution with a straight forward daytime, long-range raid -- dropping off a (Marine) force in several landing zones and practicing casualty evacuations as well,” said Col. Keith Danel, VMX-22 commanding officer.

Maj. Doug Sanders, VMX-22 pilot, and Maj. Kirk Nelson, Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 WTI instructor, flew the aircraft to Marine Corps Air Ground Command Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., and back for one of the simulations.

During the flights the aircraft used its unique flying, maneuvering and landing capability to conduct the simulation in a little more than three hours.

Sanders said the exercises were a great success and he was glad to be able to work with MAWTS-1.

“This training has allowed us to begin to build the foundation for integrating the MV-22 into WTI classes and Marine aviation,” said Danel. “It will also generate awareness of the aircraft among the aviation communities within WTI that do mission planning, execution and debriefing.”

VMX-22 will increase the level of integration and involvement with WTI in upcoming classes, said Danel. The squadron will also continue to develop tactics and techniques to benefit the aircraft.

“The Osprey has come a long way,” said Danel. “We’re going to continue that integration in future classes and we look forward to getting more and more involved in upcoming (WTIs).”

“We will steadily increase participation of the MV-22 in WTI until we have the aircraft fully integrated as we do with all (type model series),” said Col. Robert Hedelund, MAWTS-1 CO.

Danel said there is still work that needs to be done to get the MV-22 deployment capable, but he is confident in the steps that are being taken to ensure the aircraft will be ready.

He also said the goal for the aircraft’s initial operational capability will be next summer.

“Everybody is training to get the program fully operational,” he said.

There are new pilots coming out of flight school that have been trained solely on the MV-22 and Marines are studying the aircraft to learn how to resolve any issues that may arise.

Essentially, this was more of a campaign to get the word out to the public and the military that the MV-22 is meeting the standards the Marine Corps has set, said Danel.

A lot of people put a lot of hard work and effort in this aircraft to get it working well and make it as safe as possible, said Sanders.

This aircraft is the future of the Marine Corps, he said.

Now people will be able to see the MV- 22’s incredible capabilities -- its speed, its range and its payload, said Danel.

“We are training guys up, standing up squadrons and moving forward nicely,” said Danel.

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