NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- The Navy is moving forward with plans to replace one of its aging airplanes at Naval Station Norfolk, but wants to hear from the public before a decision is made.
A Draft Environmental Assessment proposes replacing 27 C-2A fixed-wing Greyhound aircraft with 38 V-22 tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft at Naval Station Norfolk, as well as at Naval Air Station North Island in California.
Pilot Ross Nix used to fly the Greyhound. Now he flies the Osprey.
"It's extremely exciting, this aircraft," he said. "It's a quantum leap forward in the way we've operated in the past. It brings a whole new capability to the carrier strike group."
Fellow pilot, CDR Clarke Cramer agreed. "And the big difference is because it doesn't have a tailhook or doesn't require an arrested landing, it has more capability to go to additional ships," he said.
The Greyhound planes were first commissioned in the 1960s, and have undergone refurbishment in 1973 and again in 2010.
The Navy says that after 50+ years of service, it is time for them to be replaced, and new facilities and functions are needed to support the new aircraft.
The Ospreys will be used to deliver personnel, mail, and cargo to and from aircraft carriers from land-based supply centers in Norfolk and San Diego.
According to the Environmental Assessment, replacing the Greyhounds with Ospreys will only have minor impacts on the environment and the local community.
"We've taken a hard look at about 15 environmental resources and there are little-to-no environmental effects," said Fleet Forces Command Osprey Project Manager Lisa Padgett.
As far as noise that might impact nearby neighbors, Fleet Forces Command Public Affairs Specialist Ted Brown said the difference should be minimal.
"The aircraft is going to sound somewhat different, but the actual noise levels are going to be very similar," he said. "We don't anticipate any significant environmental impacts with respect to noise."
The Navy is holding a public meeting on Thursday, January 18 to provide information and to also solicit comments about the proposal. The meeting will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Mary D. Pretlow Anchor Branch Library, at 111 W. Ocean View Avenue in Norfolk.
The meeting will be an open-house format with no formal presentation, and interested members of the public can arrive anytime between 4 and 6.
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