The Air Force is considering deploying CV-22 Ospreys even before they technically reach initial operational capability. Gen. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, said Wednesday this action might be needed to avoid any capability gap as the small and ancient fleet of Air Force Special Operations Command MH-53 helicopters reaches its last days. One Pave Low was lost Sept. 7 after a hard landing near Duke Field, Fla. Of the 27 H-53s originally modified for AFSOC use, Moseley said told attendees at AFA’s Air & Space Conference that six now have been destroyed in accidents, and the rest average more than 10,000 flying hours—an enormous number for a helicopter as large and heavily used as the Pave Low. The bird lost in the Duke Field incident was 38 years old, Moseley noted, and was shot up with 35 bullet holes when it participated in the 1975 mission to rescue the crew of the SS Mayaguez from Koh Tang Island, Cambodia.
A majority of panelists convened by the Atlantic Council to assess the situation in Ukraine believe that Russia will have enough forces—and recent practice in Belarus—to invade Ukraine within a month. A senior Air Force official concurred, saying the service expects the conflict soon.