The commandant of the Marine Corps is announcing the first combat deployment for the M-V-22 Osprey aircraft today, a move that will impact where the aircraft are based.
General James Conway is announcing the deployment at a Pentagon briefing scheduled for 11 a-m. The Osprey is expected to be used in Iraq.
The only three operational squadrons of Ospreys are based at New River Air Station next to Camp Lejeune in eastern North Carolina. The Marines currently have about 45 Ospreys, including testing and training squadrons.
Osprey aircraft take off like a helicopter and can fly like an airplane. They have more range, carrying capacity and can fly at up to 300 miles-per-hour. They will replace Vietnam-era C-H-46E Sea Knight helicopters.
In development since 1986, Osprey test flights were stopped for about 18 months after crashes in 2000 killed 23 Marines.