The Osprey has been a lightning rod for years, attracting vehement supporters and a legion of skeptics -- myself included. But one use for the CV-22 -- for special operations -- has had support from most observers, myself included. After all, the ability to fly long distances like a regular plane, find some valley or other relatively inaccessible place, fly nap of the earth and swoop in and down using the tiltrotors at night with a team of whatever kind of snake eaters you choose is pretty impressive.
Now my colleague Bryant Jordan has broken the story that the CV-22 Osprey joined several other Air Force planes Sept. 11 in an effort to rescue crewmen from a freighter in the path of the Hurricane Ike in the Gulf of Mexico. One person I spoke with said the planes had turned back after the Coast Guard decided they and some other special aircraft were not needed. Bryant has a slightly different version.
Here's the rest of his story, posted over at Defense Tech:
"In the end, all the aircraft had to turn back and the ship's crew rode out the storm, said Lt. Col. Stephanie A. Holcombe, director of public affairs for Air Force Special Operations Command.
Two Ospreys, along with an MH-53 Pave Low, an MC-130W and an MC-130 P were ordered to the mission around 11 a.m. after getting the report earlier about the stranded oil freighter named Antalina. The mission was launched after the Coast Guard requested Air Force help with the rescue, Holcombe said.
The ship was reported to be floating without power about 12 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas. However, the ship in fact did have power, according to Holcombe. The Air Force planes carried four rescue crews made up of three pararescuemen and a combat controller.
But as the Ospreys encountered winds in excess of 100 miles an hour they had to turn back. Those same winds prevented the Coast Guard from extending its rescue hoists from their own HH-60 helicopters, according to reports, prompting them to ask the Air Force for help."