The CV-22 Osprey Aircraft fulfills the requirement for high-speed, long-range insertion and extraction of SOF forces in hostile or denied territory in a single period of darkness. The range, altitude and speed of the CV-22 Osprey provide flexibility, unpredictability and less dependence on staging bases or refueling assets. As a result, the CV-22 Osprey Aircraft can selfdeploy worldwide to satisfy current combat operations and higher authority taskings. During July 2009, six CV-22 aircraft from the 8th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., completed the first CV-22 Osprey Aircraft operational deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the deployment, the unit flew 10,000 nautical miles round-trip across the Atlantic Ocean, accomplishing two aerial refuelings each way, and supported operations by logging over 600 combat flight hours.
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The unique characteristic of the CV-22 Osprey is its ability to take off and land like a helicopter, but once airborne, its engine nacelles tilt to convert the aircraft into a high-speed, high-altitude turboprop airplane. The CV-22 Osprey is tailored for special operations missions through an enhanced electronic warfare suite, specifically the AN/AAQ-24 (DIRCM), the AN/ALQ-211 suite of integrated radio frequency countermeasures (SIRFC), and the AN/APQ-186 terrain following/terrain avoidance (TF/TA) multi-mode radar. The DIRCM system provides active jamming of infrared homing missiles.
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SIRFC counters threats through its missile-warning receivers and jammers and provides real-time threat information to the aircrew through a dedicated display unit in the cockpit. The TF/TA radar provides the aircrew with the ability to mask the aircraft by flying low and taking advantage of surrounding terrain. To further enhance aircraft and crew survivability, the CV-22 Osprey now includes a .50 caliber, ramp-mounted weapon system. The CV-22 Osprey is powered by two Rolls-Royce AE1107C Liberty turbo shaft engines that produce 6,150 shaft horsepower each, which enable a cruising speed of 230 knots. The CV-22 Osprey is a flyby wire aircraft that provides twice the speed, three times the payload, five times the range, and more than twice the altitude of a conventional CH-46 helicopter. In March 2009, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command (HQ AFSOC) declared initial operational capability for the CV-22 Osprey. USSOCOM plans for 50 CV-22s to be delivered to AFSOC by 2016.