An Australian Exercise Showed Us What Light Aircraft In Support Of Marine Ospreys Looks Like


In the recent Pitch Black joint exercise in Australia, the land of crocodiles and terrifying spiders, U.S. Marines were finally able to fly a mission with MV-22 Ospreys escorted by light aircraft.

Elements within the U.S. military have long advocated for a light attack aircraft, and the recent Light Attack Experiment ended with the possibility of the Air Force acquiring a small force of A-29s or AT-6C aircraft in 2019. Should the under-armed but long-range MV-22 need a light air-to-ground escort, the Pitch Black Exercise laid out pretty clearly how it would go down.

The MV-22 Osprey is armed with only a ramp-mounted machine gun, leaving it vulnerable to small-arms fire, MANPADS, Technicals with light machine guns, and other unsophisticated threats in unconventional environments. The long range and high speed of the tilt-rotor Osprey makes it difficult for traditional rotary assets such as AH-1Z Cobras or AH-64 Apaches to keep up. Although the PC-9/As operated by the Australian Air Force are not armed, the platform has the capability of slinging gun pods and drop stores on its six underwing hardpoints — which is exactly what the MV-22 would need to keep a hot drop zone clear during an operation in contested territory.

One alternative to the Light Attack Aircraft option is that the mission could be performed by other assets such as F-16s or F/A-18 Super Hornets. Another is that the MV-22 itself could be more heavily armed to counter any resistance at dropzones. A third alternative is a combination of the two above and the assertion that in an irregular conflict, the partner nation could provide light air support for the MV-22, making the investment by the United States illogical in an era of great power competition.

The problem with using fast-moving and more expensive jets for CAS support is that they are overkill for the mission at hand. Their loiter time is shorter, and their high-speed orbits make them a less effective JTAC asset in the stack.

Arming the MV-22 to take care of itself creates even more problems.

A Royal Australian Air Force No. 4 Squadron 'A Flight' Forward Air Control PC-9A aircraft (bottom) provides an escort to a United States Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey in support of Exercise Pitch Black 2018.Royal Australian Air Force

Additional weapons would decrease the Osprey’s range and flight time. If one armed MV-22 is deploying troops it is vulnerable while it deploys them. If multiple armed MV-22s are sent to take an objective, a complex system for protection and disbursement of troops would be required. Fully-loaded MV-22s would be tasked with air support, which would make the loss of an MV-22 potentially catastrophic in terms of casualties.

Royal Australian Air Force No. 4 Squadron 'A Flight' Forward Air Control PC-9A aircraft provide escort to a United States Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey (centre) in support of Exercise Pitch Black 2018.Royal Australian Air Force

And finally, there are eye-opening examples of MV-22s operating in low-intensity conflict zones, where partner nations were either unwilling, unable, or never asked to provide overwatch for MV-22 operations. Exercise Pitch Black in Australia laid out a visual example of the advantages of having cheap, lightweight aircraft acting as escorts for the lumbering Ospreys. We can only hope that the OAX purchase order becomes more than just an excuse to train up JTACs with cheaper aircraft.

A enlisted thinktank brought to you by Task & Purpose


On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.

Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.

In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.

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(U.S. Army/Pvt. Stephen Peters)

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After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.

Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.

McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.

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Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

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The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.

They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.

It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.

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(Reuters/Carlos Barria)

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Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.

Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."

"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.

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