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Controversial military aircraft on layover in Hawaii

By Justin Fujioka
Published On: Aug 29 2013 09:14:55 PM HST
HONOLULU -

Windward Oahu residents fought against them. Still, 24 controversial military aircraft are coming to Kaneohe Bay in the next year or two, and area lawmakers and the media got a firsthand look at the MV-22 Osprey on Thursday.

Four of them are currently at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, en route to a deployment in the Western Pacific and the Middle East.

The 57-foot-long aircraft takes off and lands like a helicopter, but when its two 38-foot propellers tilt horizontally, it flies like a plane.

"It's been through multiple deployments on the East Coast," said Lt. Col. Kevin Duffy, commanding officer for Marine Medium Tiltrotor -- 166 (VMM-166), based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. "We are the second squadron to deploy from the West Coast. The first one went to Afghanistan and it's been proven over there."

The Marine Corps is bringing two squadrons, or 24 Ospreys to Kaneohe Bay in 2014 or 2015. Each aircraft holds 24 p"It increases both the ability to lift things, people," Duffy said. "It's speed is abut two-and-a-half times the speed. It's aero refuelable so range, the distance at which it can fly, is three times greater than legacy platforms."

In the past, Windward Oahu residents have voiced their concerns about the noise these aircraft may bring.

Duffy said, "I'll honestly say that i flew helicopters for years, transitioned to the Osprey, and it is much quieter."

The military conducted an environmental impact statement addressing noise, among other things, and it says no homes, just Kealohi Point at Heeia State Park and Coconut Island would experience sound levels higher than the federal government threshold of 65 decibels.

As far as its safety, the military said early concerns have been addressed.

"The safety record for this aircraft across all the military, it's one of the safest airframes that are out there right now," Duffy said.

The four MV-22 Ospreys are part of the USS Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, which left San Diego on Friday for the Western Pacific.

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