RAF FAIRFORD, England – The 352nd Special Operations Group conducted an exercise involving approximately 130 Airmen and six aircraft at RAF Fairford, England from Dec. 9-12.
The exercise was designed to allow the 352nd SOG to practice and evaluate their ability to efficiently forward deploy their newest assets, the CV-22 Osprey and MC-130J Commando II.
“Before we ever did anything with these new aircraft – other than local training – we sat down and took a long time to think about all of the skill sets and all of the equipment that we would need to go on the road,” said Lt. Col. Michael Thomas, 352nd Special Operations Support Squadron director of operations and exercise mission commander. “This exercise is a way to validate our efforts and identify those things before we look at venturing further from home.”
The 352nd SOG received their first CV-22s and MC-130Js earlier this year. The CV-22 Osprey is flown by the 7th Special Operations Squadron and combines the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical-landing capabilities of a helicopter with the long range, fuel efficiency and speed of a turboprop aircraft. The MC-130J is flown by the 67th Special Operations Squadron and flies low-visibility, single or multi-ship low-level air refueling missions for helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft as well as resupply and transport of military forces via airdrop or airland.
According to Col. Christopher Ireland, 352nd SOG commander, they couldn’t have picked a better location for the exercise.
“RAF Fairford is a perfect location for us to test our ability to forward deploy our new CV-22s and MC-130Js,” Ireland said. “These new aircraft bring enhanced and new capabilities, and we greatly appreciate the opportunity to test ourselves so close to home.”
The 352nd SOG is based at RAF Mildenhall, England. The unit plans and executes specialized and contingency operations using advanced aircraft, tactics and air refueling techniques to transport and resupply military forces.