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Blackbirds blaze path for CV-22

  • Published
  • By 1st Special Operations Wing
  • 8th Special Operations Squadron
The year 2008 was a hallmark in the proud 91-year history of the 8th Special Operations Squadron Blackbirds, a year that marked the transformation from a squadron with a handful of personnel, to a combat unit, ready and able to employ the global reach of the CV-22 Osprey Anytime, Any Place.

In the beginning of 2008, the 8 SOS consisted of 20 members, two aircraft and a seemingly insurmountable amount of testing, mission requirements and organizational tasks. By February 2009 the squadron had completed a demanding three-month Department of Defense mandated test, validated numerous first-ever tactics, performed multiple off-station training exercises and successfully executed the first deployment outside of the continental United States of the Air Force Special Operations Command's flagship program. All this was accomplished while gaining 21 only personnel throughout the year and tackling the daunting task of bringing the CV-22 from a program still in the test phase to operational readiness.

All great journeys begin with a first step. The journey of the CV-22 from testing to operational readiness began and ended in the hands of the 8 SOS. In 2008, 8th SOS Air Commandos executed a $4 million DOD mandated Initial Operational Test and Evaluation of the CV-22 in the deserts of Nevada. During the test, aircrews flew a record setting 400 hours - the highest to date for Air Force CV-22's. The deployment to Nevada was a resounding success and resulted in the AFSOC commander immediately putting the squadron on alert for contingency operations.

Fresh on the heels of returning from Nevada, the 8 SOS and the CV-22 made history by deploying to Flintlock 09. Flintlock is a long standing exercise that focuses on DOD assets training a broad spectrum of African nations in small unit tactics, strategic employment of host nation forces and anti-terrorism techniques. Not only was it an historic temporary duty assignment for the 8 SOS, but also for the DOD's newest combatant command - Africa Command. Flintlock 09 would be the stage for AFRICOM's inaugural exercise as well as the CV-22's first deployment outside the continental United States.

The Blackbirds' remarkable achievements and steadfast dedication to the Special Operations Command mission demonstrates the special operations forces truths and quiet professional persona of the Air Commandos. They continued a tradition of excellence cemented by previous members and in true special operations forces fashion, a small specialized team of airmen transitioned the CV-22 from test to combat operations, firmly planting the revolutionary tiltrotor capability into the SOCOM arsenal.

I firmly believe the Blackbirds' dedication to the fly, fight, and win mentality is the sole reason AFSOC can provide a combat ready CV-22 squadron. We stand ready to answer our nation's call anytime, anyplace.