Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Navy sailors joined Marines in training on the CMV-22B Osprey aircraft after the Navy received its first of 39 Ospreys, the Marines announced on Monday.
Navy personnel are currently deployed in the Middle East with Marine Medium Trirotor Squadron 166, based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.
The sailors are learning the intricacies of flying and maintaining the CMV-22B Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft designed to ferry personnel and supplies on and off aircraft carriers.
The plane/helicopter hybrid will replace the legacy C-2A Greyhound, in use since 1964, throughout the Navy.
The squadron currently serves as the Aviation Combat Element for Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command. Navy personnel within the squadron are there to gain a better understanding of the plane, and achieve qualification ratings.
"When we transition to the CMV-22B, we will fully understand the requirements and nuances of day-to-day Osprey operations and maintenance," Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 2nd Class Corey Black said in a press release.
"It is a rare opportunity for Sailors in the aviation field to deploy with our Marine brothers and sisters," Black said.
The aircraft, which can take off and land as a helicopter, as well as transit as a turboprop aircraft, is capable of carrying 6,000 pounds of cargo -- enough to transport the engine power module of an F-35 fighter plane -- and its increased fuel capacity allows it to travel over 1,150 nautical miles.
The Navy projects an inventory of 44 CMV-22Bs. The first 39 are part of a $4.2 billion contract with Bell Boeing, announced in 2018.
"The Navy sent us some of their best sailors," Lt. Col. James Ford, Aviation Combat Element commander, said of the deployment. "These sailors have seamlessly filled many manpower gaps in our maintenance department, which increased our crisis response readiness."