Naval Air: September 8, 1999

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The Marine Corps has received the first of four low-rate initial production MV-22 Osprey aircraft. These will be part of a multi-service test squadron including a total of 11 aircraft. The Marines unveiled the first prototype of their new Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle on 23 May. The two vehicles (along with the existing Landing Craft Air Cushioned) are part of a continuing effort to extend the range that amphibious ships can remain from the beach and still deliver troops. The AAAV is much faster than the existing AAVP7s, and the MV-22 has triple the range and double the speed of existing helicopters. This allows amphibious transports to remain farther from shore defenses, and allows an amphibious readiness group to threaten a far longer stretch of enemy coastline.--Stephen V Cole

A Rafale fighter and a Super Etendard attack plane made the first landings on the new French carrier Charles de Gaulle on 6 July. This was three months late due to the engine problems the ship experienced on its sea trials. The carrier is expected to enter service next year with an airgroup composed mostly of Super Etendards; the Naval Rafales will join the ship in June 2001.--Stephen V Cole

The shortage of EA-6B jammer aircraft has increased to the point that carriers are being sent to sea without these planes for the first time in decades. In such cases, EA-6Bs returning from operational deployments are sent to link up with the carriers when they reach their operational zones, although carriers may have to make do with fewer EA-6Bs until or unless they end up in a shooting situation. There are only 90 of these aircraft, and during the height of the Kosovo mission at least 50 of them were deployed to support operational missions.--Stephen V Cole

 


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