On Wednesday 20 June, the unmissable sight and sound of four United States Marine Corps (USMC) Bell Boeing MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft filled the skies of North Queensland as they arrived into Townsville Airport from Darwin via a fuel stop at Mount Isa.
The four Ospreys are believed to have arrived in Townsville to participate in the joint Military Exercise Hamel 2018 which is currently underway within the Shoalwater Bay Training Area. While at Townsville, it appears that they will be based with the Army's 5th Aviation Regiment parked alongside their MRH-90 and CH-47F Chinook helicopters.
While their serials are yet to be confirmed, the four Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft are of the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 (VMM-268) "Red Dragons" which have been deployed to Darwin recently as a part of the 7th Marine Rotational Force Darwin. This year, eight of the aircraft arrived in Darwin via ship before being flown the short distance to RAAF Base Darwin.
It is believed that the deployment from Darwin to Townsville was supported by a pair of USMC Lockheed KC-130J Hercules refuelling aircraft - 166763 "Sumo 55" and 169227 "Sumo 63".
We hope to be able to bring the awesome news that an Osprey will head to Rockhampton Airport in coming days, however, I feel this will be unlikely as it appears that most operations during Exercise Hamel 2018 are taking place at the Samuel Hill Airfield within the Shoalwater Bay Training Area.
UPDATE! On Thursday 21 June, two Ospreys were noted flying from Townsville into the Shoalwater Bay Training Area and back to Townsville.
UPDATE! On Friday 22 June, three Ospreys were noted flying from Townsville into the Shoalwater Bay Training Area and back to Townsville. They then departed back to Darwin, again via a refuelling stop at Mount Isa, and again with USMC KC-130J Hercules 166763 "Sumo 55" in support.
Sincere thanks to the Townsville plane spotters for their help preparing this post!
All photos taken by 'Shinpow16' ©