Trading rotors for wings

21st Special Operations unit deactivates

mv-22_osprey_sm.jpgIn Stars & Stripes via a reader:

RAF MILDENHALL, England — One of the most storied squadrons in the history of the U.S. Air Force in England encased its guidon Tuesday morning.

The 21st Special Operations Squadron, which had maintained a fleet of five MH-53J Pave Low helicopters, commemorated the event with a deactivation ceremony in the squadron’s hangar…

The 21st SOS was the only Air Force special-operations helicopter unit in Europe prior to Tuesday’s deactivation. For now, special operations units in Europe will depend on Army helicopters for vertical-lift capabilities.

The squadron will be back in action, though, when it’s reactivated with CV-22 Ospreys.

Meanwhile: Osprey’s debut in combat zone has rocky start and Osprey may get turret-mounted machine gun.

Already in development is BAE’s Remote Guardian System:

BAE’s Remote Guardian System comprises a GAU-17 7.62mm minigun mounted on a retractable turret that would be installed in the “hell hole” under the V-22’s cabin.

The gun is slaved to a retractable infrared/television sensor turret mounted in a second, forward hell hole and operated by a rear crew member using a hand-held controller.

The operator simply “points and shoots”, says BAE, and the weapon system, cued by the sensor, automatically compensates for wind and aircraft motion to ensure the bullets hit the target.

See Flight Global for more info and a video.


  1. It looks cool and all, and hey, I’m a big fan of putting miniguns on anything. But you have to wonder though about reliability- I don’t know if the thing will ever shake the reputation of being fatally unreliable; flying fast and low, in the dead of night, far beyond friendly support in a special operations scenario might not be the best place to either confirm or deny that rep. Are any MO readers experienced operating with the thing who can help put the Osprey’s flawed history in context?