Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold AFSOC Air Force Special Operations Command

Still in his first year as leader of Air Force Special Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold has lots of plans, but they no longer include replacing AFSOC’s U-28A manned surveillance aircraft with MC-12W Liberty spy planes. “There was discussion about moving to the Liberty birds,” Heithold told an audience at the Air Force Association… Keep reading →

Collaboration Addresses AFSOC Need for Functional Spotting Charge

WASHINGTON: Sometimes smart bombs aren’t the smart choice. Sometimes you just need a big bad flying gun. That’s why the aging AC-130 gunship is still revered by ground troops for its ability to fire a 105mm cannon — a weapon normally mounted on light tanks. That’s why the head of Air Force Special Operations Command, Lt.… Keep reading →

AFSOC pilots Capt Brett Cassidy (l) and Maj. Taylor Fingarson, pilots of Rooster 75

WASHINGTON: Air Force Tech. Sgt. David Shea sensed no danger as he stood with his .50 caliber machine gun ready at the open ramp of “Rooster 73,” one of three CV-22 Ospreys coming in to land on a small, rutted airstrip in Bor, South Sudan. A crowd of up to 10,000 people milled about a United… Keep reading →

Time was, only a masochist could enjoy managing the V-22 Osprey program office. The Marines put the tiltrotor troop transport into service in 2007 after a quarter of a century of development that included design problems, a four-year battle pitting the Corps and their pro-Osprey allies in Congress and industry against a sitting defense secretary, repeated schedule delays and cost overruns, three fatal crashes that led the Pentagon to consider cancelling the helicopter-airplane hybrid in 2001 and an unrelenting drumbeat of media and other criticism.

How much have things changed? Today, the ninth Osprey program manager, Marine Col. Greg Masiello, can honestly say: “It’s a great time to be the joint program manager of the V-22.” Keep reading →

The Air Force plans to reinstate substantial formation flight training for CV-22 Osprey pilots that it eliminated four years ago, AOL Defense has learned. Reinstatement of the training four years after the service ended it is an implicit admission, V-22 aviators said, that better training might have prevented the June 13 crash of a CV-22B in Florida.

From now on, Air Force pilots going through initial Osprey flight training with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 (VMMT-204) at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., will take a classroom course in formation flight, fly two formation flights of two hours each in a V-22 simulator, and fly one actual two-hour formation flight in the tiltrotor troop transport. Keep reading →

This September, the controversial Osprey will reach the five-year mark in its operational deployment history. In September 2007, the Osprey was deployed for the first time to Iraq. The plane has not only done well, but in five short years has demonstrated its capability to have not only a significant impact on combat but to reshape thinking about concepts of operations.

In this piece, I would like to reflect back on these five years, not just to grasp lessons learned, but glimmers of where the plane, and the Navy-Marine Corps team might be able to move into the future. The story of the evolution of the con-ops surrounding the plane provides a solid foundation for innovation and transformation of concepts of operations, if boldness overcomes timidity. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: Japan’s vice defense minister, Hideo Jinpu, is to visit the Pentagon tomorrow to get a detailed briefing on the April 11 crash in Morocco of a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey that killed two Marines. Jinpu’s visit is the next step in a kabuki dance that began a few weeks ago in response to Japanese protests against a Marine Corps plan to base Ospreys on Okinawa.

Japan’s government is bending over backward to prove to its public that it won’t let the Marines replace the 1960s-era CH-46E Sea Knight tandem-rotor helicopters it has on Okinawa now with the tiltrotor Osprey unless Japanese experts are satisfied the troop and cargo transport is safe. Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto rode in an Osprey from the Pentagon to Quantico Marine Base and back during a visit Aug. 3, during which he reportedly did a lot of smiling and got home safely. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: The pilot in command of the Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22 Osprey that crashed at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida on June 13 was also the copilot of an AFSOC Osprey that suffered a fatal accident in Afghanistan on April 8, 2010, Breaking Defense has confirmed. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: The Air Force has relieved the commander of its 8th Special Operations Squadron “because of a loss of confidence in his ability to effectively command the unit” in the wake of a tiltrotor CV-22 Osprey crash June 13 that injured all five crew members and destroyed the aircraft.

Col. James Slife, commanding officer of the 1st Special Operations Wing, issued a statement that omitted the name of dismissed commander Lt. Col. Matt Glover, who took charge of the Osprey unit at Hurlburt Field, Fla., in May 2011. Slife did not offer a detailed explanation for why Glover was being relieved – a career ending development, in most cases. The wing commander’s statement, first issued to our colleagues at, merely said the “challenges of the 8th Special Operations Squadron’s demanding mission require new leadership to maintain the highest levels of precision and to reliably support the ground forces which count on the 8th SOS to safely accomplish their missions.” Glover has been replaced, Breaking Defense has learned, by Lt. Col. Matthew Smith, former commander of the 20th Special Operations Squadron, another AFSOC unit at Cannon Air Force Base, N.Mex. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON [Corrected at 6 pm Friday]: The latest crash of a V-22 tiltrotor may be a black mark on the aircraft’s safety record, but it won’t bring down the program. Despite literally decades of criticism — which is now certain to flare up again — there’s simply too much budgetary momentum, political support, and, yes, operational value to the V-22.

Yesterday evening, a CV-22 — the Air Force Special Operations version of the Osprey — crashed in Florida. (The 1st Special Operations Wing aircraft was based out of Hurlburt Field, part of Eglin Air Force Base in Florida). The five people aboard were injured and taken to local hospitals, but the Air Force announced this afternoon that none of their injuries was life-threatening; four crewmen were listed as stable and one in “guarded” condition. [Updated Friday 3:45 pm: Two of the crewmen were released from hospital Friday; three remain hospitalized]. The wing commander, Col. James Slife, said in a press conference there was no general safety issue apparent that would require grounding the CV-22 fleet. Keep reading →

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