US military testing on Salisbury Plain

AN unusual sight was seen in the skies around Salisbury Plain as United States Air Force (USAF) pilots have been using vertical take-off aircraft to carry out mission-specific training.

Pilots flying CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft from the 352nd Special Operations Group have been conducting training. They have been flying one to two times a week, over the last month.

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. Its mission is to transport and resupply military forces.

USAF Lt Col Christopher Goodyear, 7th Special Operations Squadron CV-22 operations officer, said: “Salisbury Plain provides great opportunities for CV-22 tactical profiles that we might encounter on missions in dedicated airspace and ranges.

“We are grateful to the UK, MoD, DIO and Natural England for the opportunity to conduct mission critical training at this location.”

The highly-versatile aircraft allows USAF Special Operations Command aircrews to execute long-range special operations missions.

It takes off vertically and, once airborne, the nacelles (engine and prop-rotor group) on each wing can rotate into a forward position.

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