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I thought I would put a selection of pics together of the CV-22 Osprey that I have taken at Mildenhall in the last few years. Operating from their apron on the North Western corner of Mildenhall they're fairly easy to photograph, especially from the end of Pollards Lane, which over looks they're usual rotation spot, called the 'Alpha' pad. You'll frequently find that they go out prior to dusk for night ops, often alongside the MC-130J's. They're still hardly the most reliable of types, and I've lost count of the number of times I've been about to photograph one and it's aborted it's departure due to unserviceability, or if they're out locally they will frequently come back early broke. Anyway, here's a selection, mostly from the Western end of Mildenhall.


Landing on the Alpha pad - note the muddy wheels!
































Lifting from the runway at dusk.








Hope that little lot is of interest.



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A great selection of pin sharp shots Gary, many thanks for sharing.



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Superb shots, thanks for sharing them. A CV-22 made a brief stop at Glasgow Airport last week. 

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Super cool

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Posted (edited)

A lovely set of images, my friend. The Osprey is a fascinating machine for my money and a great photographic subject. 


I'm interested to read your comments regarding the frequent serviceability issues you've witnessed. I read several years ago that the CV-22 will only ever be used to carry the US President in very extreme emergencies (in other words, if there is nothing else available at a time of imminent danger). Funnily enough, they have no issues with minor White House staff flying in the aircraft - I guess they're not worried about losing them...


Thanks for sharing with us. 



Edited by spruecutter96
Correcting a typo.
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Posted (edited)


Thanks gents,


My comments in the Ospreys for Indonesia thread elsewhere on the forum go into some more details on the long term problems with the MV/CV-22 Osprey, but to elaborate a little here as well. I've been watching these since they first turned up and were permanently assigned to the 7th Special Operations Sqn in mid 2013, although a test deployment had been made by stateside aircraft as far back as 2011. I don't get over there as much now as I used to since a job change in 2014 - ironically I now work for another subsidiary of the corporation that owns Bell helicopters, one half of the consortium that makes the V-22! However, I keep up with what goes on at Mildenhall, and it has to be remembered that a lot of their personnel live off base in the community, and have close contact with a lot of local aviation enthusiasts. So off the record you tend to find out the reality behind the bland PR nonsense that is the norm nowadays. Certainly, I've heard enough to indicate that the personnel who operate and maintain it at Mildenhall are not impressed.  


I would say that 1 in 3 sorties that I've seen attempt to launch results in a abort, and that's only sorties that I am aware that they're planning, either from activity around the aircraft, radio comms or after engine start. It's normal policy to rotate the rotors vertical a couple of hours before engine start. Also remember these things don't do quick, it takes quite a few hours of personnel activity around an aircraft before they launch, and sometimes up to a hour of ground running - strange characteristics for a SF tasked aircraft I would have thought. Even after launching they will frequently return u/s. Those shots of '060 above with the .050 on the back ramp were taken on the last routine flying day before Christmas last year, and that crew were on their second aircraft, the first went u/s and returned early so they swapped.  Obviously, I realize that complex modern military aircraft have always had poor serviceability compared to their simpler predecessors - I live next door to the Apaches at Wattisham so am very familiar with the norm. I have no doubt that the V-22 is a maintenance and availability  nightmare, even many years after first being deployed. At Mildenhall they replaced 7 MH-53s  with a normal strength of 9 CV-22s, although that number varies depending on deployments and the rotation of airframes from US units, so that may well indicate they need more airframes to produce the same level of availability. Even when the first 2 turned up in the summer of 2013, one vanished into the hangar immediately with gear box problems (a common issue with the type) and didn't reappear to make it's first UK sortie for many months! 


I like the type to observe and photograph, as they are interesting to watch, but as a value for money piece of military hardware, they're not very good and thankfully the UK hasn't spent valuable defence funds on acquiring any, despite the nonsense the tabloids have often sprouted about them being used by UK special forces. That's always been misidentified Mildenhall aircraft. Interestingly, Japan is the only export customer for the type, although deployment to Japan was delayed for a long time due to local opposition. Israel came close, but wisely backed out.


One final thought, CV-22s have the worst radio equipment I have ever monitored! Which again seems strange for a relatively modern type. They're so scratchy and poor quality I can rarely make out what they're saying on the radio, but I instantly know I'm monitoring a CV-22!





Edited by gary1701
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