Special operations expanding capabilities with new aircraft, personnel

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  • By 010613
The 352nd Special Operations Group at RAF Mildenhall, England, will begin an expansion this summer.

Beginning in June, the 352nd SOG plans to start receiving the first two of 10 CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and the first of 12 MC-130J Commando II fixed-wing aircraft.

The remaining eight Osprey aircraft are scheduled to arrive by the end of 2014, while the additional MC-130J inventory is scheduled to take up to five years for the final aircraft to arrive.

In addition to the aircraft, the 352nd SOG will have an increase in additional U.S. Air Force personnel assigned to the group. Including family members, an increase of about 900 people is expected.

The decision to expand the 352nd SOG is a result of close coordination between the U.K. Ministry of Defence and the U.S. Department of Defense.

"We are welcoming back vertical airlift to SOF in Europe," said Col. Christopher Ireland, 352nd SOG commander. "It's been almost six years since we've had it here, and this modernization of the force improves our efficiency and effectiveness.

"We're increasing in aircraft, operators, maintainers and support personnel," continued Ireland. "With the growth, we'll be able to more-fully support operations requirements and partner nation training opportunities."

The addition of the CV-22s and MC-130Js will enhance the capabilities of the operators.

The Osprey combines the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical landing qualities of a helicopter with the long-range fuel efficiency and speed characteristics of a turboprop aircraft. This versatile, self-deployable aircraft offers increased speed and range over rotary-wing aircraft, enabling the execution of long-range missions. The CV-22 can perform missions that normally would require both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.

The MC-130J flies low visibility, single or multi-ship low-level air refueling missions for helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft. It can also provide infiltration/exfiltration and resupply of forces by airdrop or airland accessing sensitive or hostile territories.

Both the CV-22 and MC-130J primarily fly missions at night to reduce probability of acquisition and engagement by enemy threats.

Local media will be invited to visit the 352nd SOG in mid June. Also, the SOG is hosting an expansion showcase for community and civic leaders in late June. Representatives from the 352nd SOG will be available to conduct interviews and answer questions from the media. Expect a media advisory when a specific date is scheduled.