Air Transportation: MV-22 In Ground Combat


December 22, 2011: The four man crew of a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B tiltrotor aircraft received awards for combat bravery (Air Medals with the valor device) in the first instance of an MV-22B coming under heavy fire on the ground while carrying out a resupply mission. The MV-22B crew was also the first to use their ramp mounted machine-gun to fire on an advancing enemy.

This action took place last June, when attempts to get supplies in by road to a heavily engaged marine battalion failed. It was decided to try and fly the supplies in with an MV-22B. The aircraft landed in helicopter mode and for three minutes sat on the ground as the crew and nearby marines hustled to unload the cargo. While this was going on Taliban rifle and machine-gun fire were hitting the MV-22B and some Taliban were advancing on the landing zone. Adjacent marines fired on the Taliban, who were shooting at the MV-22B, but the Taliban realized that destroying the tiltrotor aircraft would be a major propaganda victory and were putting most of their fire on the aircraft. But the cargo was unloaded, and as the MV-22B took off, one of the crew began firing a rear ramp mounted machine-gun at the oncoming Taliban. The supplies helped the marine battalion to defeat the Taliban force and the MV-22B got back to its base in one piece, although with several bullet holes. 

The marines often mount a 7.62mm machine-gun on the rear ramp and some carry a machine-gun mounted in a turret beneath the aircraft. The marine MV-22s can carry 24 troops 700 kilometers (vertical take-off, level flight, landing, and return) at 400 kilometers an hour. The MV-22 is replacing the CH-46E helicopter, which can carry 12 troops 350 kilometers at a speed of 200 kilometers an hour. Normally, the MV-22 has a lifting capacity of about 5.5 tons, but in hot weather the lifting capacity of the vertical takeoff MV-22 is cut by about a third, to 3.7 tons.


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