BellBoeing V-22 Osprey | Tilt-rotor transport

V-22 Osprey
V-22 Osprey

Militarymedia.net | In the early 1980s Bell Helicopter Textron and Boeing Vertol began a collaboration to develop a larger derivative of the XV-15 tilt-rotor demonstrator for the Joint Services Advanced Vertical Lift Aircraft program. Combining the helicopter's vertical lift capability with the fast-cruising flight efficiency of a fixed-wing turboprop, the resulting V-22 Osprey was awarded full-scale development in 1985.

In the BellBoing joint venture, the workload is shared. Bell Helicopter Textron manufactures and integrates wings, nacelles, rotors, propulsion systems, tail surfaces and aft ramps, engines, and performs final assembly. Boeing Vertol manufactures and assembles the fuselage, cockpit, avionics and flight controls.

Initial requirements required 913 Ospreys, consisting of 52 MV-22A attack versions for the US Marine Corps and US Army; 80 CV-22A long-range special forces transport aircraft for the US Air Force; and 50 for the US Navy. The US Navy also foresees the need for up to 300 SV-22A for anti-submarine warfare.

Six prototypes were produced and flight testing began in 1989, but the program suffered a serious setback in 1992 with the fall of the fourth prototype. Already under financial and political review, a serious reassessment of the Osprey program followed, with the final conclusion that 300 (later 360) aircraft would be procured for the US Marine Corps alone.

In 1994 production authorization was granted for this batch, plus 48 Ospreys for the US Navy and 50 for the US Air Force. The loss of three V-22s during testing in 2000 cast a further shadow on the program, but this most important future fighter aircraft achieved initial operational capability with the US Marine Corps during 2001-2002. Pre-production deliveries to the US Air Force and US Navy began in 2003. Eventually the Osprey was officially adopted and its full-scale production commenced in 2007. The initial production rate was 11 engines per year, which was increased to 24-48 engines per year in in 2012. Since its introduction, the Osprey has complemented the US troop helicopter fleet.

Japan became the first export customer of this tiltrotor transport. A contract for the delivery of 17 Ospreys was announced in 2015. Other countries such as India, Israel, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates have also expressed interest in acquiring these machines.

The Osprey has greater speed, range and lift than conventional helicopters. It can operate from ships, as well as from rugged frontline airfields. It can carry 9 000 kg internal or 6 800 kg external. The MV-22A operated by the US Marine Corps holds up to 24 soldiers, or 12 liters and medics. The Osprey can carry various combinations of troops, weapons, or vehicles. In the near future the Osprey will be able to refuel other aircraft and helicopters in the air.

The machine can be armed with a 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine gun, or a 7.62 mm minigun on an incline. The cannon turret system was also developed and integrated in its underbelly, but its use was limited. The Gatling gun under the nose is planned for future upgrades. There are also plans to equip the V-22 with air-to-ground missiles such as the Hellfire or Griffin on its wing hardpoints.

Mounted in wingtip nacelles, the engine can be rotated up to 97.5° and drives a three-blade prop-rotor via an interconnected drive shaft. It only takes 12 seconds from the nacelles to rotate and switch between helicopter and airplane modes. For onboard storage, the main plane rotates to the center to rotate along the top of the fuselage, the prop-rotor blades also fold in parallel.

V-22 Ospreys saw action during various operations around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan. This tiltrotor transport has also been used during humanitarian missions in Haiti and Nepal.

The price of the V-22 Ospreys is around $72 Million.

BellBoeing V-22 Osprey
V-22 Osprey

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