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The recent ‘elephant walk’ of US Marine Corps helicopters and Osprey tilt-rotors is an impressive display of air power, but will likely intimidate only small countries without air defenses, a military expert tells RT.
In what the USMC called a “dynamic display of strength,” aircraft from the Marine Aircraft Group 16 in Miramar, California staged a mass take-off last week. Video of two dozen MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotors and 16 CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters shows them in “elephant walk” formation on the tarmac before they take to the skies.
The Super Stallion is the latest version of the heavy-lift helicopter designed by Sikorsky in the 1960s, and is used by the Marines to lift artillery pieces and light armored vehicles. The MV-22, on the other hand, was developed by Bell (now Bell-Boeing) as something unique: a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter, but flies like an airplane.
“The US has the largest and most technically equipped corps of marines in the world,” military expert and retired Russian Aerospace Force Colonel Mikhail Khodarenok told RT.
One of the reasons the USMC needs these heavy-lifters is because its assault ships are basically small carriers and cannot get too close to the enemy shores without exposing themselves to deadly fire, Khodarenok pointed out.
Futuristic as it is, the Osprey has had a rocky service record when it comes to safety. Since its first flight in 1989, a dozen hulls were destroyed in crashes and accidents, resulting in 42 total deaths. The deadliest crash happened in Arizona in 2000, when 19 Marines were killed during a training flight.
While the ‘elephant walk’ was intended to look impressive, Khodarenok noted that a total of 40 aircraft is “a lot, but not an armada.” It was a “a clear demonstration of the US Marine Corps’ capabilities intended to deter and intimidate, especially relatively small countries with ‘wrong’ policies,” the military expert told RT.