RAF Mildenhall : 352nd SOG Press Call : 26th July 2013
On Monday 24th June 2013, the 352nd Special Operations Group took delivery of two CV-22B Osprey, 11-0057 and 11-0058 after a flight consisting of 4 legs (Cannon AFB -> Hurlburt Field->St. Johns-> Keflavik-> Mildenhall) and 21 flight hours. One of the pilots, Capt Mark Hamilton was at the event and spoke highly of the aircraft. Their arrivals started a large expansion and modernisation program.
On 26th July 2013 I was invited to attend a “Press Day” with the 352nd SOG at RAF Mildenhall to learn more about their new aircraft.
The 352nd Special Operations Group (SOG), currently comprises of 5 squadrons – but only two are flying squadrons, the 7th Special Operations Squadron (S.O.S.) and 67th SOS
Colonel Christopher Ireland, Commander of the 352nd Special Operations Group said that he sees this expansion as the start of the latest chapter in a 70 year historical relationship and partnership between the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
However, just bringing a new type of aircraft into the UK airspace is not that simple. There has been a lot of work involving the M.O.D. and the 352nd SOG to enable the CV-22B to operate in the UK low Fly zones. These are currently split into two distinct sections, fixed wing sectors & rotary aircraft sectors. The CV-22B is both and thus the whole concept of it flying at low altitude needs to be looked at.
The CV-22B’s will increase to ten in number, with another two in September 2013, three in February 2014 and the final batch of three in August 2014. All Osprey’s will be attached to the 7th Special Operations Squadron.
By the time the last CV-22B is delivered to RAF Mildenhall, the 352nd SOG will have increased its fleet from nine aircraft to twenty-two with an additional 380 personnel.
No news was given if there are any more MC-130J’s due.
I would like to thank, Captain Jason SMITH and Staff Sergeant Stephen LINCH for the invite to attend this event and also to Colonel Ireland and all those who took time out to answer questions & show us around the two aircraft. A special thank you goes from me to Pc Paul Glover (MOD Police) who forwarded my name to be put on this event.