A squadron of US tilt-rotor combat aircraft depicted in dozens of Hollywood blockbuster action movies has landed in the Northern Territory.
Known as the Red Dragons, the 10 Bell-Boeing V-22 Ospreys have been assigned to support this year’s Marine Rotational Force based in Darwin.
“The Red Dragons are excited to join 5th Marines as part of the MRF-D 2022 rotation,” Lieutenant Colonel Vanessa Clark, Marine’s aviation combat element commanding officer said on Monday.
“Honoured to be working hand in hand with the Australian Defence Force, the importance of the US-Australia team cannot be overstated.”
The squadron will join thousands of Marines who started arriving in the Top End in March, to train with the Australian Defence Force during the upcoming dry season.
It’s the 11th annual rotation of Marines to the territory, which could also be called on to carry out humanitarian assistance, evacuation and military operations in the region.
Darwin’s location just south of more than a dozen Asian countries and some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes makes it a strategic stepping-off point.
The seasonal force, which also includes 250 US Army for the first time, is expected to grow to 2200 servicemen and women over the next few months.
The force is part of the ongoing US posture initiative to promote stability in the Indo-Pacific region amid increasing tensions with China.
It sits alongside the Enhanced Air Co-operation program between the Royal Australian Air Force and the US Air Force, amid increasing military cooperation between the two nations.
The Hawaii-based Osprey squadron has previously supported operations during both gulf wars and the war on terrorism.
The US military has used the V-22 for more than 30 years in combat and humanitarian operations, according to Bell.
The fleet of more than 400 aircraft can take off and land vertically, combining the functionality of a helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop.
It is used for air assaults, personnel and cargo transport, casualty evacuation and humanitarian relief.
It has also appeared in 39 Hollywood blockbusters, including James Bond: Blood Stone, Godzilla vs. Kong, Edge of Tomorrow and three Transformer movies, according to Internet Movie Plane Database.
The Red Dragons arrived three weeks after the USAF’s largest aircraft, the C-5 Super Galaxy, flew into RAAF Darwin.
The 75 metre-long cargo plane, capable of carrying more than 100 tonnes over 10,000km, is transporting equipment in and out of the NT from the Marine’s base in Japan.