US Marine Osprey’s Cross the South Pacific Deploying from Darwin to Hawaii

MV-22 refueled by the C-130.
MV-22 refueled by the C-130.

A section of US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor medium lift helicopters from Marine Rotational Force Darwin (MRF) 22, supported by a C-130, conducted a pan-Pacific tactical redeployment (TACREDEPLOY) from Australia to Hawaii over the period 12-17 September 2022.

The team from MRF-D 22 Aviation Support Element (ACE) traveled over 11,300 km (7020 mile) transiting northern Australia and the South Pacific. The effort travelled from Darwin to Amberley in Queensland, Australia, then to Fiji, American Samoa, Kiribati, while finishing at the ACE home station at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Distances between some legs of the journey exceeded 3800 km. That is beyond the 2,230 km ferry (one way flight) range of the MV-22, which thus required the Osprey’s to be inflight refueled by the C-130 on multiple occasions.

Colonel Chris Steele, the MRF-D 22 commander, explained “We are able to take advantage of opportunities allowing us to demonstrate particularly our HADR Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response) proficiency in the Indo-Pacific.”

It also reinforces the importance and operational benefits provided by the unique capabilities of the MV-22 particularly in the Pacific area. Its maximum air speed of 565 km/h (351 mph, 305 kts) allows transiting its extended distances in a more reasonable time while its operating range, as demonstrated in the TACREDEPLOY, opens employment options otherwise unavailable.

The 2022 TACREDEPLOY and the MRF-D is a major component of the Marine Corps and US Navy re-emphasis on the Pacific regions and fostering of increased cooperation with the various nations in the area. The last time a TACREDEPLOY was conducted was in 2019.

by Stephen W. Miller