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OSPREY MAY ROOST AT BASE.

Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer

Edwards Air Force Base is among five West Coast defense installations being considered as the home for the Marine Corps' MV-22 Osprey fleet and its projected work force of 2,500 people.

The MV-22 base will house 108 of the tilt-rotor aircraft and nine Marine Corps squadrons, according to preliminary plans. That equates to an estimated 2,500 workers and another 2,500 family members.

The Osprey fleet will support the 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit at Camp Pendleton. In selecting candidate bases to house the Osprey fleet, the Marine Corps and its naval support staff looked at Defense Department installations that are within 200 nautical miles of Pendleton.

``Then we asked, Do you have room for us? Is our mission compatible with your mission?'' said Doug Gilkey, the Navy's project manager. ``Edwards has a heavy test mission, but they have three or four runways they can put us on where we won't impact their mission.''

Also being considered as possible home bases for the Osprey are Marine Corps air stations at Camp Pendleton, Miramar and Yuma, as well as Naval Air Facility El Centro.

As part of the review, the Navy is conducting a series of scoping meetings over the next couple weeks to determine what issues an environmental impact report should cover.

A draft environmental impact report should be completed by January 2002, with a final report completed a year later. A decision on where to house the Ospreys is expected by spring 2003.

The Navy is still putting together final numbers of the number of aircraft and personnel and the number and size of the buildings required to house the Ospreys and the work force, Gilkey said.

The Ospreys will replace the fleet of CH-46 and CH-53 helicopters operated by the Third and Fourth Marine aircraft wings.

Edwards houses two reserve Marine Corps squadrons that operate the CH-46 and CH-53 helicopters. The two squadrons were sent to Edwards in 1998 as the result of the closure of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

Edwards is also the home of the test program of the Air Force variant of the Osprey.

Voicing support for bringing the Osprey fleet to Edwards are the Antelope Valley Board of Trade; the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce; Assemblyman George Runner, R-Lancaster; and state Sen. W.J. ``Pete'' Knight, R-Palmdale.

CAPTION(S):

Photo: (color in AV edition only) The Marine Corps is looking for ahome for its 108-plane, nine-squadron MV-22 Osprey fleet.

Gene Blevins/Special to the Daily News
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 28, 2000
Words:420
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