USS BATAAN --
The MV-22B Osprey is considered a revolutionary aircraft in the Naval aviation community, mainly due to the tilt-rotor aircraft’s ability to transform rotor positions while in flight.
According to the Naval Air Systems Command Website, “The MV-22 Osprey’s mission for the U.S. Marine Corps is the transportation of troops, equipment and supplies from ships and land bases for combat assault and assault support.”
The Osprey provides commanders with an array of operational capabilities, but without constant organizational-level maintenance from highly trained mechanics, it could never launch from the flight deck of the USS Bataan.
Airframe mechanics with Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced), 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, are responsible for keeping the squadron’s multi-million-dollar aircraft ready for ongoing flight operations from the ship.
The Marines maintain the aircrafts’ vital panels, hydraulic systems, landing gear, and other complex internal and external components. The mechanics spend extensive hours completing numerous body and structural repairs on the aircraft – day and night – in calm and rough seas.
The work completed in the ship’s hangar bay ensures the aircraft can successfully complete medium-lift assault support missions; and ultimately, safely return aviators, troops and essential equipment to the ship.
During routine inspections, the Marines inspect a series of aircraft components for proper functionality and serviceability. They often meticulously check the aircraft for corrosion and outdated parts.
When a component needs service or replacement, the mechanics troubleshoot defects and complete repairs with delicate precision. Later, collateral duty inspectors carefully review their work for quality assurance.
The mechanics also meticulously maintain the aircraft’s complex composite skin, which is frequently exposed to degrading elements, rotor wash, jet blast and various fluids during flight.
During maintenance on April 16, 2011, the mechanics worked on an Osprey’s air-intake. Together, the Marines used specialized tools to carefully remove the aircraft intake’s panels to make further repairs.
The Marines treat the aircraft with the utmost care, take pride in their work and missions they support.
Sergeant Richard Simpson, an Osprey airframe mechanic and Cincinnati native, said the maintenance process can be extremely tedious, but working a state-of-the-art and versatile platform makes the job worthwhile.
The Marines said they feel honored to maintain such a unique aircraft, which can launch vertically from USS Bataan like a helicopter, then transform into a turbo-prop platform using tilt-rotor technology.
Lance Cpl. Andrew J. Handshue, a Pittsburgh native, and airframe mechanic with VMM-263 (REIN) said, “it’s a good feeling,” when maintainers finish an urgent job behind the scenes and later observe the aircraft operate from USS Bataan.
The Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU are currently deployed with Amphibious Squadron 6 aboard the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and will continue to train and improve the MEU’s ability to operate as a cohesive and effective Marine Air Ground Task Force.
The 22nd MEU is a multi-mission, capable force, commanded by Col. Eric J. Steidl and comprised of Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; and its Command Element.
Marine Expeditionary Units are the Marine Corps' smallest permanent Marine Air-Ground Task Force, and comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors ready to provide immediate response to a hostile environment or crisis.