Belize citizens will have a unique opportunity to see the United States Marine Corps’ newest combat utility aircraft in action in September when the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing visits to conduct training in Belize.
This morning four MV-22 Ospreys with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron, based out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., will fly non-stop to Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City. The approximately 1,300-mile flight will require multiple aerial refueling operations from two KC-130J aircraft with Marine Ariel Refueler Transport Squadron 252 to reach the Central American nation.
The 2nd MAW aircraft based out of MCAS Cherry Point will fly with the Osprey to Belize refueling them the whole way. Once the Osprey arrive at its destination the KC-130s will return to Cherry Point, but will make multiple flights back to Belize for logistical support.
Nearly 80 people are deploying with VMM-365 for this exercise. Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 as well as a variety of supporting agencies, some of who are already in country, will provide support to VMM-365. MWSS-271’s support will include communications, engineering, and airfield and medical support.
To be able to go to Belize for this type of training is special and for many of the Marines it’s the first time they will travel outside the U.S. explained Pirrotta.
“These exercises are normally limited to the U.S. and the opportunity to go to another nation is a unique opportunity,” said Pirrotta. In coordination with the Belize Defense Force, the Marines will conduct low-altitude training over the Belizean countryside during their 10-day stay. The mission for this exercise is to have the MV-22 self-deploy to Belize in order to train over water, improve self-deployment capability and conduct unit training, said Maj. Stephen M. Pirrotta, Operations Officer with VMM-365.
“The British had recently removed their aviation that was supporting the Belize Defense Force,” explained Pirrotta. “This deployment and training provides an opportunity to establish a working relationship with the BDF and establish future 2nd MAW training opportunities.”
This exercise will give local citizens many opportunities to see the Osprey in action. The Osprey takes off and lands like a helicopter, but flies like a conventional aircraft, allowing it to fly twice as fast, carry three times the weight, and travel four times farther than the helicopters it has replaced.
With more than 100,000 flight hours under its belt, the Osprey has proven itself a tough and reliable aircraft to the Marines who pilot it and to those who ride in the back. This versatile aircraft can accomplish many Marine Corps missions, such as delivering troops into combat, performing rescue and recovery operations, and providing humanitarian assistance in locations that can’t be reached by airplane.
Belize citizens will see an aircraft that looks, sounds and performs like no other, while the Marines enjoy the beautiful scenery that makes Belize such a popular tourist destination on the Caribbean Sea.
“There has been a significant amount of planning with multiple units for this exercise,” said Pirrotta. “We are glad to be at the execution stage.”
Article by Joint Public Affairs Office, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point