Ten Bell Boeing CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft will be permanently based in the UK from June 2013 onwards.
Stationed at RAF Mildenhall, they'll become part of the 352nd SOG (Special Operations Group) alongside 12 MC-130J Commando II aircraft, which are also new on the scene.
The first Mildenhall-based CV-22 Ospreys are due in coming days, with the remaining eight Ospreys scheduled to join them before December 2014. Meantime, the first MC-130J Commando II arrived today (7 June) but the other 11 aircraft will be delivered over the next five years, according to current scheduling.
352nd SOG Expansion
In line with the 352nd SOG's expansion, approximately 900 more service personnel and their relatives will relocate to the area. According to a 6 June press release issued by RAF Mildenhall, the 352nd SOG expansion decision arose from a closely-coordinated effort involving the US Department of Defense and the UK Ministry of Defence.
The CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor takes off and lands like a helicopter but, thanks to its rotating engine nacelles, takes on the qualities of a standard transport aircraft when in flight. Therefore, it can undertake missions usually restricted either to rotary-winged or fixed-winged aircraft.
The MC-130J Commando II carries out low-visibility air-to-air refuelling sorties at low altitudes. Additional roles include airdrops and infiltration/exfiltration. Both the Osprey and the Commando II tend to operate under the cover of darkness, thereby limiting their exposure to enemy forces.
Ospreys and Commandos
"We are welcoming back vertical airlift to SOF in Europe", the 352nd Special Operations Group's commander, Colonel Christopher Ireland, explained in a statement on the Ospreys and Commandos.
"It's been almost six years since we've had it here, and this modernization of the force improves our efficiency and effectiveness." He added: "We're increasing in aircraft, operators, maintainers and support personnel. With the growth, we'll be able to more-fully support operations requirements and partner nation training opportunities."