The US Marine Corps' Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor could be deployed to support coalition operations in Afghanistan next year, according to service officials.

Ospreys from VMM-263 first deployed to Iraq in September 2007, and by 13 July the type - flown by VMM-162 in the country - had logged 5,200 combat flight hours in around 3,000 sorties.

On its initial seven-month deployment, VMM-263 recorded a mission availability rate of around 70% and a monthly flying rate per aircraft of around 65h. "That allowed us to execute all of our scheduled missions," says unit commander Lt Col Paul Ryan.

 USMC MV-22 Iraq
© US Navy

The V-22 will be assigned to the next Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is set to deploy early next year. "We are looking forward to doing more, and being part of the MEU as it steps up," says Ryan. "We'd soon like to stop being considered special, and to deploy like any other Marine Corps squadron."

Source: Flight International