The U.S. Marine Corps has gotten a lot of attention for its MV-22 mission, this year, to rescue one of two downed F-15 pilots when the fighter went down in Libya owing to mechanical problems.
But the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), not as publicity hungry or savy, has quietly carried out a far more significant search and rescue mission using its tiltrotor.
Almost exactly a year ago, a CV-22 operating out of Kandahar rescued 32 personnel stranded in difficult conditions in northeastern Afghanistan, according to USMC Col. Greg Masiello, the V-22 Joint Program Manager. The CV-22 was based in Kandahar and flew 800 naut. mi. without refueling to recover the troops.
One reason the CV-22 was used for the mission was its ability to fly above 15,000 ft. and thereby fly over the Hindu Kush mountain range. What is more, Masiello says the high altitude capability allowed the CV-22 to fly over extremely bad weather that persisted at lower altitudes and made a rescue using a helicopter impossible.
The mission lasted about 4 hours.
AFSOC currently still sustains a CV-22 deployment to Afghanistan.
Next year, AFSOC will also be the first to stand up an overseas V-22 base, when CV-22s will be based at RAF Mildenhall, U.K.