US Marines deployed to Australia will soon be joined by a group of MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft for their annual six-month rotation. More than 1,200 of the California-based troops will use the versatile aircraft as they move across Australia’s Northern Territory.
Lt. Col. Matthew Emborsky, who coordinates Marine Rotational Force — Darwin, said, “The Northern Territory will be a great environment for [the Osprey] because of its speed and the distance it can operate in,” according to Stripes.com
Based at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin, the Marines have been conducting these six-month deployments every year since 2012, and Emborsky said that there would be more aircraft to support troops this rotation, even though the number of troops remains the same as last year.
According to the US Marines’ website, “In November 2011, President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the deployment of Marines to Darwin and Northern Australia for around six months at a time. During this period, they will conduct exercises and training on a rotational basis with the Australian Defence Force. The presence of Marines in Australia reflects the enduring alliance and common security interests in the region and improves interoperability between the US and Australia.”
Along with four Ospreys, Marines will also have four UH-1Y Venoms and five AH-1W Super Cobras at their disposal, quite an increase from the four Huey helicopters offering support last year.
Though this year marks the Osprey’s first yearly rotation with the Marines, it’s no stranger to the outback, as it has been a part of past Talisman Saber drills, a biennial joint exercise between Australia and the US.
Emborsky explained that the drill will include complex day and night operations, saying, “When you partner up with the Australians and do a live-fire there, it really is varsity-level stuff … The rotations get better every time.”
The next Talisman Saber exercise will take place this summer with the Royal Australian Regiment’s 5th Battalion.
“The Osprey shrunk the [area of operations] in Afghanistan and we think it will do that in Australia too,” Emborsky said, saying the aircraft is well-suited to navigate the area. He pointed out that Darwin is an eight-hour drive from where the Marines drill at Bradshaw Field Training Area, and that the Osprey can make that trip in an hour.
He added that the Darwin Marines come from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment out of Twentynine Palms, California, and will be supported by the 7th Engineer Support Battalion out of Camp Pendleton, California.
Originally the size of the rotation was supposed to be about 2,500 but US budget issues have stalled growth, according to Australian national security consultant Ross Babbage. Since these issues have been resolved, Babbage said that the rotation should increase within two or three years.