New Google Maps imagery shows 9 V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft at airbase in Kuwait

One of our readers has pointed an interesting detail he has found on Google Maps: the presence of a huge contingent of U.S. V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft in Kuwait.

At least twice in the last months, U.S. Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft have conducted missions in Syria or Iraq.

On Jul. 3, some V-22 aircraft were used to carry Delta Force commandos to a campsite in eastern Syria where ISIS militants were believed to hold American and other hostages (that had been moved by the time the commandos attacked the site).

On Aug. 13, V-22s deployed military advisers, Marines and Special Forces on Mount Sinjar to coordinate the evacuation of Yazidi refugees.

Besides their participation in these missions, little is known about the Osprey involvement in the war on Islamic State.

However, there are reasons to believe that V-22 are deployed in theater to play an active role in Operation Inherent Resolve: in fact, as pointed out by our reader Brian Ostrander, a “Google Maps fanatic,” at least 9 Ospreys were depicted on a parking apron at Ahmed al Jaber airbase, in Kuwait, on a satellite image dating back to the end of October.

Although the tiltrotors could have visited the Kuwaiti airport on a ferry flight to somewhere else, or may have just returned to their homebase by the time this article is published, it seems reasonable to believe that the airfield, one of the main hubs for several U.S. and allied aircraft involved in air strikes, is the main operating location of the V-22s and the ones clearly visible in the imagery represent the contingent of Ospreys deployed in the region to perform special tasks in Syria and/or Iraq.

The resolution of the image available on Google Maps or Google Earth prevents a clear identification of the variant: hence the aircraft can be either Marines MV-22s or Air Force’s CV-22s.

There are several reasons why such assets were (and, most probably, still are) deployed in Kuwait: they may be ready to conduct special operations, including infiltration and exfiltration missions, as those performed last summer, or they may be part of the forces tasked with Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR) missions in case one of the aircraft is either downed or crashes for a failure “behind the enemy lines” as happened to the Jordanian F-16 last week.

During the Air War in Libya, MV-22A Osprey from the USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) performed a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, or “TRAP” mission, in deep into the Libyan territory to rescue the aircrew of a U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle crashed during Operation Odyssey Dawn.

Noteworthy, the new Google Maps imagery shows several more aircraft, including Saudi Tornados, some F-5s, Mirage 2000s and (what looks like) Qatari Alpha Jets.

H/T Brian Ostrander for the heads-up

Image credit: Google Maps


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Please stay away from the Rest of the world – America !

    Let the middle easterners fight their own battle against IS – they better !

  2. Being a veteran and mother of an active duty soldier, I am very curious why someone would want to post the information and speculation in this article knowing it could put the lives of many soldiers and others at risk. Shouldn’t we put the safety of our soldiers above the need to tell everything we may know or find out? It seems to me the other side does not need spies to obtain information beneficial to them, all they have to do is monitor our internet posts. I know we have freedom of speech. But we should also use common sense when it comes to posting critical information regarding our troops and missions when at war.

    • It is cold comfort indeed to know, but Islamic State knew about those birds within 10 minutes of their arrival [even lowly goatherds have cellphones these days]. Aviationist got the news more than 2 months later. Our discussion in no way increases the threat to your child. In addition, IS buys satellite data from the same places Google Earth does [note the watermark on the photo]. I hope your child–and all US soldiers–return safely from their military adventure, and the sooner the better.

      • Son or daughter, not a child. The term child generally refers to a human being who has not reached the age of puberty or legal majority. The adults who freely volunteered to fly and maintain these aircraft possess more maturity, knowledge, integrity, character and common sense than the vast majority of nitwits commenting on the level of the threat that accompanies the unnecessary divulging of their location.

  3. How old is that photo? I just checked My address on Google Maps and it shows a vacant lot. I’ve lived at that address for two years and it took four months to build my house.

  4. Yes the CV22’s are darker grey….

    FWIW (not just for you Tomcat) you do realize there are V22’s on ships in the Persian gulf so how is a few birds in Kuwait some magical news?

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