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V-22 Osprey

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Title: V-22 Osprey  
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V-22 Osprey

"V-22" redirects here. For other uses, see V22 (disambiguation).
V-22 Osprey
A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 prepares to land aboard USS Nassau in February 2008
Role V/STOL transport
National origin United States
Manufacturer Bell Helicopter
Boeing Rotorcraft Systems
First flight 19 March 1989
Introduction 13 June 2007[1]
Status In service
Primary users United States Marine Corps
United States Air Force
Produced 1988–present
Number built 160[2]
Program cost US$35.6 billion after planned procurement of 408 aircraft[3]
Unit cost
MV-22: US$69.3 million (flyaway cost for FY2012)[3]
Developed from Bell XV-15

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is an American multi-mission, military, tiltrotor aircraft with both a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability. It is designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.

The V-22 originated from the United States Department of Defense Joint-service Vertical take-off/landing Experimental (JVX) aircraft program started in 1981. The team of Bell Helicopter and Boeing Helicopters was awarded a development contract in 1983 for the tiltrotor aircraft. The Bell Boeing team jointly produce the aircraft.[4] The V-22 first flew in 1989, and began flight testing and design alterations; the complexity and difficulties of being the first tiltrotor intended for military service in the world led to many years of development.

The United States Marine Corps began crew training for the Osprey in 2000, and fielded it in 2007; it is supplementing and will eventually replace their CH-46 Sea Knights. The Osprey's other operator, the U.S. Air Force, fielded their version of the tiltrotor in 2009. Since entering service with the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force, the Osprey has been deployed in both combat and rescue operations over Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.


Early development

The failure of the Iran hostage rescue mission in 1980 demonstrated to the United States military a need[5][6] for "a new type of aircraft, that could not only take off and land vertically but also could carry combat troops, and do so at speed."[7] The U.S. Department of Defense began the Joint-service Vertical take-off/landing Experimental (JVX) aircraft program in 1981, under U.S. Army leadership.[8]

The defining mission of the Marine Corps has been to perform an amphibious landing, and they were particularly interested in the JVX program. They realized that a concentrated strike force was vulnerable to a single nuclear weapon, airborne solutions with good speed and range allowed for significant dispersal;[9] and their CH-46s were wearing out;[10] without replacement, the threat of a merger between the Marine Corps and the Army lingered,[11][12] similar to President Truman's proposal following World War II.[13]

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps were given the lead in 1983.[8][14][15] The JVX combined requirements from the U.S. Marine Corps, Air Force, Army and Navy.[16][17] A request for proposals (RFP) was issued in December 1982 for JVX preliminary design work. Interest in the program was expressed by Aérospatiale, Bell Helicopter, Boeing Vertol, Grumman, Lockheed, and Westland. The DoD pushed for contractors to form teams. Bell partnered with Boeing Vertol. The Bell Boeing team submitted a proposal for an enlarged version of the Bell XV-15 prototype on 17 February 1983. This was the only proposal received and a preliminary design contract was awarded on 26 April 1983.[18][19]

The JVX aircraft was designated V-22 Osprey on 15 January 1985; by that March the first six prototypes were being produced, and Boeing Vertol was expanded to deal with the project workload.[20][21] Work has been split evenly between Bell and Boeing. Bell Helicopter manufactures and integrates the wing, nacelles, rotors, drive system, tail surfaces, and aft ramp, as well as integrates the Rolls-Royce engines and performs final assembly. Boeing Helicopters manufactures and integrates the fuselage, cockpit, avionics, and flight controls.[4][22] The USMC variant of the Osprey received the MV-22 designation and the U.S. Air Force variant received CV-22; this was reversed from normal procedure to prevent Marine Corps Ospreys from having a conflicting designation with aircraft carriers (CV).[23] Full-scale development of the V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft began in 1986.[24] On 3 May 1986 the Bell Boeing partnership was awarded a $1.714 billion contract for V-22 aircraft by the U.S. Navy. At this point all four U.S. military services had acquisition plans for V-22 versions.[25]

The first V-22 was rolled out with significant media attention in May 1988.[26][27] The project suffered several blows. That year, the U.S. Army left the program, citing a need to focus its budget on more immediate aviation programs.[8] The project faced opposition in the Senate in 1989, surviving two votes that both could have resulted in cancellation.[28][29] Despite the Senate's decision, the Department of Defense instructed the U.S. Navy not to spend more money on the Osprey.[30] When the V-22's projected development budget greatly increased in 1988, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney tried to remove funding from 1989 to 1992 in an effort to cancel it. He was eventually overruled by Congress,[14][30][31] which provided unrequested funding for the program.[32] Multiple studies of alternative aircraft found the V-22 provided more capability and combat effectiveness with similar operating costs as the alternatives.[33] The Clinton Administration was supportive of the V-22 and helped the program attain funding.[14]

Flight testing and design changes

The first of six MV-22 prototypes first flew on 19 March 1989 in the helicopter mode,[34] and on 14 September 1989 in fixed-wing mode.[35] The third and fourth prototypes successfully completed the Osprey's first sea trials on USS Wasp in December 1990.[36] The fourth and fifth prototypes crashed in 1991–92.[37] From October 1992 until April 1993, Bell and Boeing redesigned the V-22 to reduce empty weight, simplify manufacture and reduce production costs. This redesigned version became the V-22B model.[38] V-22 flights resumed in June 1993 after safety improvements were incorporated in the prototypes.[39] Bell Boeing was awarded a contract for the engineering manufacturing development (EMD) phase in June 1994.[38] The prototypes also received changes to better match the B-model configuration. Flight testing at the stage focused on expanding the flight envelope, measuring flight loads, and supporting the EMD redesign. This and further flight testing with the early V-22s continued into 1997.[40]

External images
Osprey carries M777 howitzer for first time

Flight testing of four full-scale development V-22s began in early 1997 when the first pre-production V-22 was delivered to the Naval Air Warfare Test Center, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. The first EMD flight took place on 5 February 1997. Testing fell behind schedule.[41] The first of four low rate initial production aircraft, ordered on 28 April 1997, was delivered on 27 May 1999. Osprey number 10 completed the program's second sea trials, this time from USS Saipan in January 1999.[24] During external load testing in April 1999, Boeing used a V-22 to lift and transport the M777 howitzer,[42] and it lifts a light-weight version of the gun.[43][44]

In 2000, Boeing announced that the V-22 would be fitted with a nose-mounted GAU-19 Gatling gun.[45] The gun was to provide defensive firepower in high threat environments.[45] The nose gun project was canceled, leading to criticism by retired USMC Commandant James L. Jones, who was not satisfied with the V-22 armament.[46] A remote-controlled, belly-mounted, Minigun turret was later installed on some of the first V-22s sent to the War in Afghanistan in 2009.[47]

In 2000, there were two further fatal crashes, killing a total of 19 marines, and the aircraft was again grounded while the cause of these crashes was investigated and various parts were redesigned.[31] The V-22 completed its final operational evaluation in June 2005. The evaluation was deemed successful; events included long range deployments, high altitude, desert and shipboard operations. The problems identified in various accidents had been addressed.[48]


The V-22's development process has been long and controversial, partly due to its large cost increases.[49] The V-22's development budget was first planned for $2.5 billion in 1986, then increased to a projected $30 billion in 1988.[31] As of 2008, $27 billion had been spent on the Osprey program and another $27.2 billion will be required to complete planned production numbers by the end of the program.[24]

Its [The V-22's] production costs are considerably greater than for helicopters with equivalent capability—specifically, about twice as great as for the CH-53E, which has a greater payload and an ability to carry heavy equipment the V-22 cannot... an Osprey unit would cost around $60 million to produce, and $35 million for the helicopter equivalent.
—Michael E. O'Hanlon, 2002.[50]

The V-22 squadron's former commander at Marine Corps Air Station New River, Lieutenant Colonel Odin Lieberman, was relieved of duty in 2001 after allegations that he instructed his unit that they needed to falsify maintenance records to make the aircraft appear more reliable.[24][51] Three officers were later implicated in the falsification scandal.[49]

Although technically capable of autorotation if both engines fail in helicopter mode, performance is very poor and it is very difficult to make a safe landing.[52] A director of the Pentagon's testing office in 2005 said that if the Osprey loses power while flying like a helicopter below 1,600 feet (490 m), emergency landings "...are not likely to be survivable." But Captain Justin "Moon" McKinney, a V-22 pilot, says there is an alternative, "We can turn it into a plane and glide it down, just like a C-130."[46] A complete loss of power would require the failure of both engines, as one engine can power both proprotors via interconnected drive shafts.[53] While vortex ring state (VRS) contributed to a deadly V-22 accident, the aircraft is less susceptible to the condition than conventional helicopters based on flight testing.[5] But a GAO report stated that the V-22 is "less forgiving than conventional helicopters" during this phenomenon.[54] In addition, several test flights to explore the V-22's VRS characteristics in greater detail were canceled.[55] The Marines now train new pilots in the recognition of and recovery from VRS and have instituted operational envelope limits and instrumentation to help pilots avoid VRS conditions.[31][56]

With the first combat deployment of the MV-22 in October 2007, Time Magazine ran an article condemning the aircraft as unsafe, overpriced, and completely inadequate.[46] The Marine Corps responded by arguing that much of the article's data were dated, obsolete, inaccurate, and reflected expectations that ran too high for any new field of aircraft.[57]

The V-22 has a maximum rotor downwash speed above 80 knots, more than the 64 knots lower limit of a hurricane.[58][59] However, it is possible to fast rope from the V-22.[60]

Changes have been made to the Osprey hardware, software, and procedures in response to hydraulic fires in the nacelles, vortex ring state control issues, and opposed landings.[61]

Recent developments

On 28 September 2005, the Pentagon formally approved full-rate production for the V-22.[62] The plan is to boost production from 11 a year to between 24 and 48 a year by 2012. Of the 458 total planned, 360 are for the U.S. Marine Corps, 48 for the Navy, and 50 for the Air Force at an average cost of $110 million per aircraft, including development costs.[24] The V-22 had an incremental flyaway cost of $67 million per aircraft in 2008,[63] but the U.S. Navy hopes to shave about $10 million off that cost after a five-year production contract in 2013.[64]

On 15 April 2010, the Naval Air Systems Command awarded Bell Boeing a $42.1 million contract to design a new integrated avionics processor to resolve electronics obsolescence issues and add new network capabilities.[65] By 2014 Raytheon will provide an avionics upgrade that includes Situational awareness and Blue Force Tracking.[66]

Mission improvements have been developed for the "Block C" version. A contract for the Block C upgrade and other improvements was awarded to Bell Boeing in late 2009.[67] Deliveries of Block C upgrades are ongoing in 2010.[24][68][69] In February 2012, the Marine Corps received the first Block C Ospreys with new radar, cockpit displays, and electronic warfare features.[70]

U.S. Naval Air Systems Command is working on software upgrades to increase the maximum speed from 250 knots (460 km/h; 290 mph) to 270 knots (500 km/h; 310 mph), increase helicopter mode altitude limit from 10,000 feet (3,000 m) to 12,000 feet (3,700 m) or 14,000 feet (4,300 m), and increase lift performance.[71] Implementation of these upgrades began in September 2011[72] and proved largely effective.[73]

Between 2008 and 2011, the estimated lifetime cost for maintaining the V-22 fleet grew by 61 percent, mostly from increased maintenance and support costs.[74]

In April 2012, the DoD ordered 70 AE 1107C engines for the Osprey, with options for up to 268 engines.[75]

On 6 October 2012, a MV-22 Osprey from squadron VMM-165 landed and refueled on board USS Nimitz (CVN-68); this was part of an evaluation of the feasibility of the MV-22 as a potential replacement for the C-2 Greyhound carrier onboard delivery (COD) cargo transport aircraft.[76][77] Bell Boeing has also run wind tunnel studies about using the V-22 as a tanker aircraft for refueling.[78] The aerial refueling system would be provided in a roll-on, roll-off module requiring no permanent modifications to the aircraft.[79] The USMC began testing the system in 2013, with an eye towards extending the strike range of the ARG's F-35Bs from 450 to 600 miles.[80] Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle has suggested that a LHD strike group with 16 F-35s and 6 tanker equipped V-22s.[81]

By 2010, air readiness rates for the V-22 rose 28 percent, while maintenance costs, as measured by cost per flight hour, fell 19 percent to $9,520 per hour. Few other modern aircraft programs have demonstrated an increase in readiness while lowering flight hour costs. These improvements are believed to strengthen foreign sale opportunities for the V-22, with Israel agreeing to purchase in April 2013, and the United Arab Emirates and Japan showing interest. The U.S. hopes to sell up to 100 Ospreys internationally. Training may be done on French Mistral-class amphibious assault ships to demonstrate its capabilities and show that U.S. forces could operate with France from a Mistral. The U.S. Navy has also stayed interested, and may buy 30-50 Ospreys to replace their aging C-2 Greyhounds.[82]

By 2012 the USMC reported fleet wide readiness rate had risen to 68 percent.[83] However, the DOD's Inspector General later found 167 of 200 reports had "improperly recorded" information.[84] Captain Richard Ulsh blamed these errors on incompetence and said that they were "not malicious" or deliberate.[85]

In 2013 the USMC leveraged the unique abilities of the V-22 Osprey to form an intercontinental response force, the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force for Crisis Response.[86]

In September 2013, Rolls-Royce announced it had increased engine power for the V-22's two Rolls-Royce AE 1107C engines by 17 percent. The increase came from a new Block 3 turbine, an increase in the flow capacity of the fuel valve, and a software update to deliver the higher power when needed. The upgrade is to boost the reliability of the tilt-rotor aircraft in high-altitude, high-heat conditions. Current payloads are limited at 6,000 ft and 95 degrees; the update is to enhance that to 8,000 ft and 95 degrees. Kits for the improved engines are expected to arrive late 2014. A more comprehensive Block 4 upgrade is being examined to increase power by 26 percent, allowing the engines to hit close to 10,000 horsepower. It also could improve fuel consumption, which would benefit forces operating in the Asia-Pacific region.[87]


The Osprey is the world's first production tiltrotor aircraft, with one three-bladed proprotor, turboprop engine, and transmission nacelle mounted on each wingtip. It is classified as a powered lift aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration.[88] For takeoff and landing, it typically operates as a helicopter with the nacelles vertical and rotors horizontal. Once airborne, the nacelles rotate forward 90° in as little as 12 seconds for horizontal flight, converting the V-22 to a more fuel efficient, higher speed turboprop aircraft. STOL rolling-takeoff and landing capability is achieved by having the nacelles tilted forward up to 45°.[68] Other orientations are possible, such as the "80 Jump" takeoff which uses nacelles at 80° to quickly achieve high altitude and speed.[89]

Composite materials make up 43% of the V-22's airframe. The proprotors blades also use composites.[68] For compact storage and transport, partly on Marine launch ships, the V-22's rotors fold in 90 seconds and its wing rotates to align, front-to-back, with the fuselage.[90] Due to the requirement of folding the rotors their 38 feet diameter is 5 feet less than optimal for vertical takeoff, resulting in high disk loading.[89] Most Osprey missions use fixed wing flight 75 percent or more of the time, reducing wear and tear on the aircraft and reducing operational costs. This fixed wing flight is higher than typical helicopter missions allowing longer range line-of-sight communications for improved command and control.[24]


The V-22's two Rolls-Royce AE 1107C engines are connected by drive shafts to a common central gearbox so that one engine can power both proprotors if an engine failure occurs.[53] However, if a proprotor gearbox fails that proprotor cannot be feathered, and both engines must be stopped before an emergency landing.[52] The aircraft's autorotation characteristics are poor partly because the rotors have low inertia.[52] Boeing has stated the V-22 design loses 10% of its vertical lift over a Tiltwing design when operating in helicopter mode because of airflow resistance due to the wings, but that the Tiltrotor design has better short takeoff and landing performance.[91] The rotorwash usually prevents usage of the starboard door in hover, and the rear ramp is used for rappelling and hoisting.[52]


The V-22 is equipped with a glass cockpit, which incorporates four Multi-function displays (MFDs, compatible with night-vision goggles)[52] and one shared Central Display Unit (CDU), allowing the pilots to display a variety of images including: digimaps centered or decentered on current position, FLIR imagery, primary flight instruments, navigation (TACAN, VOR, ILS, GPS, INS), and system status. The flight director panel of the Cockpit Management System (CMS) allows for fully coupled (autopilot) functions that take the aircraft from forward flight into a 50 ft (15 m) hover with no pilot interaction other than programming the system.[92] The glass cockpit of the canceled CH-46X was derived from the V-22.[93] The fuselage is not pressurized, and personnel must wear on-board oxygen masks above 10,000 feet.[52]

The V-22 has triple-redundant fly-by-wire flight control systems.[94] With the nacelles pointing straight up in conversion mode at 90° the flight computers command the aircraft to fly like a helicopter, with cyclic forces being applied to a conventional swashplate at the rotor hub. With the nacelles in airplane mode (0°) the flaperons, rudder, and elevator fly the aircraft like an airplane. This is a gradual transition and occurs over the rotation range of the nacelles. The lower the nacelles, the greater effect of the airplane-mode control surfaces.[95] The nacelles can rotate past vertical to 97.5° for rearward flight.[96][97] The aircraft also has computerized damage control that automatically isolates damaged elements.[98] The controls so automate and simplify aspects of the V-22's flight that without wind it can hover with no hands on the controls; according to some who have flown the aircraft, former fixed-wing pilots may be preferable because they, unlike those with helicopter experience, are not trained to constantly adjust the controls while hovering.[89][52]


The Osprey can be armed with one 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 in caliber) M240 machine gun or .50 in caliber (12.7 mm) M2 machine gun on the loading ramp, that can be fired rearward when the ramp is lowered. A .50 in GAU-19 three-barrel Gatling gun mounted below the V-22's nose was studied for future upgrade.[99] BAE Systems developed a belly-mounted, remotely operated gun turret system for the V-22,[100] named the Interim Defense Weapon System.[47] This system is remotely operated by a gunner inside the aircraft, who acquires targets with a separate pod using color television and forward looking infrared imagery.[101] The belly gun system was installed on half of the first V-22s deployed to Afghanistan in 2009,[47] but found limited use due to its 800 lb (360 kg) weight and restrictive rules of engagement.[102]

As of February 2012, eight Interim Defense Weapon Systems were available to the Marine Corps, with 24 more fielded by June 2012. At the time, the IDWS had not yet been used in combat. The reason was because Ospreys worked with supporting helicopter gunships and close air support aircraft that engaged threats before V-22s could, allowing them to focus on their transport role. Squadrons often flew without the belly gun, as the added weight reduced its cargo-carrying capacity. The Marines continue to support the IDWS, despite its limitations and lack of use, as the Corps emphasizes small-scale expeditionary operations in post-Afghanistan conflicts. The Osprey's speed means it can outrun supporting conventional helicopters, requiring it to be able to defend itself on long-range missions and operate independently at times. Even though the gun had not been used, the infrared camera on the system has proven valuable for reconnaissance and surveillance. Other weapons are being studied to provide an all-quadrant defensive weapon system, including nose guns, door guns, and nonlethal countermeasures to work with the current ramp-mounted machine gun and the IDWS.[103]

Refueling capability

Boeing is developing a roll-on/roll-off aerial refueling kit for the V-22 because of interest expressed by the Marines and Special Forces. The kit would give the V-22 the ability to refuel other aircraft, including the F-35 Lightning II. Having an aerial refueling capability that can be based off Wasp-class amphibious assault ships would increase the striking power of Marine F-35Bs, as they would not rely on refueling assets that could only be based on full-sized Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. The roll-on/roll-off kit can also be applicable to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance functions, which can include an aerial surveillance radar. The aerial refueling kit has been tested in a wind-tunnel, and Boeing intends to flight test the system on a government-owned V-22 during summer 2013.[104] Boeing is paying for the demonstration on a VMX-22 aircraft. The system is a non-functional aerodynamic demonstrator consisting of a high-speed aerial refueling drogue, hose, and reel mechanism using off-the-shelf parts. Because there are few F-35B test assets, an F/A-18 Hornet was used in the demonstration. One concept being examined is the deployment of a squadron of 16 F-35Bs on an amphibious assault ship with six MV-22s. The MV-22s would be equipped with a roll-on/roll-off aerial refueling kit, which would greatly extend the range of the F-35B.[105]

On 29 August 2013, an F/A-18 Hornet conducted proximity tests of an MV-22’s drogue chute, flying within 30 ft of the Osprey in a lateral offset position. The two aircraft were traveling at 210 kn (240 mph; 390 km/h). The high-speed version of the hose/drogue refueling system is designed to be deployed at 185 kn (213 mph; 343 km/h) and function at up to 250 kn (290 mph; 460 km/h). The refueling system uses onboard tanks as well as a roll-on/roll-off bladder. The hose extends 90 ft total and 80 ft from the ramp of the aircraft. The operator must open the ramp to extend the refueling hose, then raise the ramp back up once it is extended, with the top ramp door left open. The system can offload up to 12,000 lb (5,400 kg) of fuel. No significant wake turbulence was reported coming from the MV-22. In following tests, the hose will extend and retract and low-speed proximity tests will be conducted with no contact between the refueler and receiver. The Osprey could refuel rotary-wing aircraft, but it would require a separate drogue used specifically by helicopters and a partially converted nacelle, with operation at around 105 kn (121 mph; 194 km/h). Bell and Boeing are hoping for funding for additional testing to include contact between the refueler and receiver, and eventually the passage of fuel between the two aircraft.[106]

Operational history

U.S. Marine Corps

Marine Corps crew training on the Osprey has been conducted by VMMT-204 since March 2000. On 3 June 2005, the Marine Corps helicopter squadron Marine Medium Helicopter 263 (HMM-263) stood down to begin the process of transitioning to the MV-22 Osprey.[107] On 8 December 2005, Lieutenant General James Amos, commander of II Marine Expeditionary Force, accepted the delivery of the first fleet of MV-22s, delivered to HMM-263. The unit reactivated on 3 March 2006 as the first MV-22 squadron and was redesignated VMM-263. On 31 August 2006, VMM-162 (the former HMM-162) followed suit. On 23 March 2007, HMM-266 became Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 (VMM-266) at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina.[108]

The Osprey has been replacing the CH-46 Sea Knight on a squadron-by-squadron basis since 2007, a process to be completed by 2019, when remaining Sea Knight helicopters will be retired.[109][110] The MV-22 reached initial operational capability (IOC) with the U.S. Marine Corps on 13 June 2007.[1] On 10 July 2007 an MV-22 Osprey landed aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carrier, HMS Illustrious in the Atlantic Ocean. This marked the first time a V-22 had landed on any non-U.S. vessel.[111]

On 13 April 2007, the U.S. Marine Corps announced that it would be sending ten V-22 aircraft to Iraq, the Osprey's first combat deployment. Commandant of the Marine Corps James T. Conway indicated that over 150 Marines would accompany the Osprey set for September deployment to Al Asad Airbase.[112][113] On 17 September 2007, 10 MV-22Bs of VMM-263 left for Iraq aboard USS Wasp. The decision to use a ship rather than use the Osprey's self-deployment capability was made because of concerns over icing during the North Atlantic portion of the trip, lack of available KC-130s for mid-air refueling, and the availability of the Wasp.[114]

The Osprey has provided support in Iraq, logging 2,000 flight hours over three months with a mission capable rate of 68.1% as of late-January 2008.[115] They are primarily used in Iraq's western Anbar province for routine cargo and troop movements, and also for riskier "aero-scout" missions. General David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, used one to fly around Iraq on Christmas Day 2007 to visit troops.[116] Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama also flew in Ospreys during his high profile 2008 tour of Iraq.[117]

The only major problem has been obtaining spare parts to maintain the aircraft.[118] The V-22 had flown 3,000 sorties totaling 5,200 hours in Iraq as of July 2008.[119] General George J. Trautman, III praised the V-22's increased speed and range over the legacy helicopters in Iraq and said that "it turned his battle space from the size of Texas into the size of Rhode Island."[120]

Heat from the Osprey's engines can potentially damage the flight deck on some of the U.S. Navy's smaller amphibious ships. Naval Air Systems Command devised a temporary fix of portable heat shields placed under the engines to prevent deck damage. They determined that a long-term solution to the problem would require redesigning the decks with heat resistant coatings, passive thermal barriers, and changes in ship structure to accommodate V-22s, as well as F-35Bs.[121] DARPA has requested solutions from the industry to install robust cooling on top of the flight deck.[122]

A Government Accountability Office study reported that by January 2009 the Marines had 12 MV-22s operating in Iraq and they completed all assigned missions. The same report found that the V-22 deployments had mission capable rates averaging 57% to 68% and an overall full mission capable rate of only 6%. It also stated that the aircraft had shown weakness in situational awareness, maintenance, shipboard operations and the ability to transport troops and external cargo.[123][124] That study also concluded that the "...deployments confirmed that the V-22’s enhanced speed and range enable personnel and internal cargo to be transported faster and farther than is possible with the legacy helicopters it is replacing."[123] Naval Air Systems Command hopes to reach a 85% reliability rate by 2018.[125]

The MV-22 was deployed to Afghanistan in November 2009 with VMM-261,[118][126][127] and saw its first offensive combat mission, Operation Cobra's Anger, on 4 December 2009. Ospreys assisted in inserting 1,000 Marines and 150 Afghan troops into the Now Zad Valley of Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan to disrupt communication and supply lines of the Taliban.[47] In January 2010 the MV-22 Osprey was sent to Haiti as part of Operation Unified Response relief efforts after the earthquake there, the aircraft's first humanitarian mission.[128]

By 2009, Ospreys have been fired upon by Man-portable air-defense systems and small arms, but none have been lost.[129]

The Marines have found that the V-22's speed and range make it a good operational match for fast jets. The service has therefore split Marine Expeditionary Unit operations into two groups with fast jets and V-22s in one group and helicopters in the other.[130]

On 18 February 2011, Marine Commandant General James Amos indicated Marine MV-22s deployed to Afghanistan surpassed 100,000 flight hours and were noted as having become "the safest airplane, or close to the safest airplane” in the Marine Corps inventory.[131] The average V-22 mishap rate based on flight hours over the past 10 years, has been approximately half the accident rate for the USMC aircraft fleet. The V-22's accident rate is the lowest of any Marine rotorcraft.[132] Wired Magazine has reported that the recent safety record has been achieved only by excluding V-22 ground incidents; one such incident claimed the life of one crew member.[133] The Marines responded that MV-22 reporting is done by the same standards as all other aircraft in the Department of the Navy.[134]

In March 2011, two MV-22s from USS Kearsarge participated in a mission to rescue a downed USAF F-15E crew member during Operation Odyssey Dawn. This was one of the first times that a USMC Osprey was used in a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP).[135][136]

On 2 May 2011, following Operation Neptune's Spear, the body of Osama bin Laden, the founder of the al-Qaeda terror group, was flown out by a MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and subsequently buried at sea after religious rites were conducted aboard the Vinson while operating in the Northern Arabian Sea.[137]

The USMC states that the cost per flight hour had fallen from $12,000 to $8,300 in January 2012, averaging $10,000. The required mission capable rate was 82%, but the average was 53% from June 2007 to May 2010.[2] As of 2013, the V-22 has reached almost 140,000 hours of operational flying; the US Marines having flew approximately 100,000 hours.[138]

MV-22s began supporting the Marine One presidential transport squadron in 2013 due to the urgent need for CH-53Es in Afghanistan. These MV-22s received additional upgrades for communications and passenger comfort.[139][140] Boeing had announced in May 2010 that it would submit the V-22 for the DoD's VXX presidential transport replacement.[141]

Several Japanese government leaders and Okinawa residents opposed a planned V-22 deployment in Japan following the 2012 accidents; this deployment proceeded in July 2012.[142][143] The Japanese Defense Ministry have studied the procurement of the Osprey.[144] On 14 June 2013, a Marine MV-22 landed on the JDS Hyūga as part of an amphibious training mission off the coast of California; this was the first time a V-22 landed on a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel.[145]

On 12 June 2013, the U.S. DoD awarded a $4.9 billion contract to Bell and Boeing for 99 V-22s in production Lots 17 and 18, including 92 MV-22s for the Marine Corps. Work is expected to be completed in September 2019.[146] A provision gives NAVAIR the option to order 23 more Ospreys.[147] The contract awarded in June 2013, a contract awarded in December 2012, and other ancillary contracts total $6.5 billion for the 99-Osprey order.[148] On 27 June 2013, a $60 million contract modification was awarded to the Lot 17 order for one additional MV-22; the order totals 100 Ospreys, with 93 for the Marine Corps.[149]

From 2–5 August 2013, two MV-22 Ospreys completed the longest distance Osprey tanking mission to date. The aircraft flew from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa to Townsville, Australia. Two KC-130J refueling aircraft supported the Ospreys. After leaving Okinawa, the Ospreys flew to Clark Air Base in the Philippines on 2 August, then to Darwin, Australia on 3 August, and reached Townsville on 4 August. The two aircraft rendezvoused with the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) on 5 August and remained there while the two KC-130s returned to base.[150]

On 11 August 2013, two MV-22 Ospreys from Marine Helicopter Squadron One made their presidential debut ferrying Secret Service agents, White House staff, and members of the media from CGAS Cape Cod to Martha's Vineyard during the President's vacation.[151]

U.S. Air Force

The Air Force's first operational CV-22 Osprey was delivered to the 58th Special Operations Wing (58th SOW) at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico on 20 March 2006. This and subsequent aircraft will become part of the 58th SOW's fleet of aircraft used for training pilots and crew members for special operations use.[152] On 16 November 2006, the Air Force officially accepted the CV-22 in a ceremony conducted at Hurlburt Field, Florida.[153]

File:Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey.ogv

The Air Force first used the Osprey on a non-training mission to perform search and rescue from Kirtland Air Force Base on 4 October 2007.[154]

The U.S. Air Force's first operational deployment of the Osprey sent four CV-22s to Mali in November 2008 in support of Exercise Flintlock. The CV-22s flew nonstop from Hurlburt Field, Florida with in-flight refueling.[5] AFSOC declared that the 8th Special Operations Squadron reached Initial Operational Capability on 16 March 2009, with six CV-22s in service.[155]

In June 2009, CV-22s of the 8th Special Operations Squadron delivered 43,000 pounds (20,000 kg) of humanitarian supplies to remote villages in Honduras that were not accessible by conventional vehicles.[156] In November 2009, the 8th SO Squadron and its six CV-22s returned from a three-month deployment in Iraq.[157]

In August 2012, the USAF found that "CV-22 wake modeling is inadequate for a trailing aircraft to make accurate estimations of safe separation from the preceding aircraft."[158]

As part of a contract awarded on 12 June 2013 to Bell and Boeing for 99 V-22s, including 7 CV-22s for the Air Force Special Operations Command. Work is expected to be completed in September 2019.[146]

Potential operators

The Marine Corps has identified at least 15 possible candidates for sale of the V-22. Most are countries in the Middle Eastern and Pacific region. Although foreign nations are expected to only buy a handful of aircraft, they could account for up to 100 sales over 10 years.[159]

U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy has been a potential user of the V-22 in search and rescue, transport and anti-submarine warfare roles.[160][161] The V-22 program includes 48 HV-22s for the U.S. Navy, but none have been ordered.[24] The latest proposal is to replace the C-2 Greyhound with the V-22 for Carrier Onboard Delivery duties. The V-22 has already shown their advantage in speed and range of being able to land on and support non-carriers with rapid delivery of supplies and people between ships beyond helicopter range.[162][163][164]

Proponents of the V-22 for the COD role say it flies at the same speed and lift capability for long ranges as the C-2. It can carry more at short ranges; up to 20,000 lb, with the ability to carry suspended external loads while traveling up to 200 kn (230 mph). Both aircraft have similar internal payloads. The C-2 is part of a hub-and-spoke delivery method, where it flies people and cargo aboard the carrier and then helicopters distribute them among the fleet. The V-22 would simplify and hasten logistics, being able to land directly on any ship it needed to. The Osprey is already certified on amphibious ships, aircraft carriers, and logistics ships, with certification on hospital and small combatant ships still needed. The aircraft's prop rotors don't go past the nose, allowing it to get close on small flight decks. It can even engage an autopilot and be programmed to fly a route and hover at 50 ft over a pre-determined point. The V-22 could take the roles of some helicopters, with a 600 lb hoist fitted to the ramp and a cabin configuration for 12 non-ambulatory patients and five seats for medical attendants. Another advantage over fleet helicopters is that the Osprey has anti-icing features.[165]

A MV-22 Osprey landed and refueled on board USS Nimitz (CVN-68) as part of an evaluation for COD in October 2012.[77] COD cargo handling trials were to start 19 April 2013 on the USS Harry S. Truman.[166]

Bell and Boeing are pitching the Osprey to the Navy as more than a transport, but a platform for various missions, including hosting communications hardware or electronic-attack systems. Successful trials as an aerial refueling aircraft are hoped to persuade the Navy by filling a capability gap in tactical aerial refueling. That mission is currently handled by Marine KC-130s, Air Force KC-10s, and select KC-135s with a hose-and-drogue delivery system.[159]


Boeing says that it hopes to interest India in a V-22 purchase.[167]


Israel had shown an early interest in the V-22.[168][169] Reports in late 2009 stated that Israel favored the Sikorsky CH-53K.[170] In 2011, Israel expressed a new interest in the V-22 to support special operations and in search & rescue operations.[171][172] In 2013, Israel was reportedly interested in a possible lease of six to eight aircraft for special operations missions; the type is not to act as a replacement for existing rotorcraft.[173] On 22 April 2013, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel finalized an arms agreement to sell the V-22 to the Israel Air Force, along with tanker aircraft, radars, and anti-radiation missiles.[174] The Israeli aircraft are to be moved to the front of the production queue, jumping ahead of some USMC deliveries.[175] They are possibly expected to arrive as early as 2015.[176]


The Japanese Defense Ministry is studying the possibility of buying V-22s for the Japan Self-Defense Forces. The Osprey exceeds current Japanese helicopters in terms of range, speed, and payload. In 2012, former Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto ordered ministry officials to seek expenses on research and studies of the Osprey. The ministry expects deployments to the Nansei Islands and the Senkaku Islands; the type is also likely be used in cooperation with U.S. forces.[144] Japan is considering plans to have V-22s in service in a maritime role by as early as 2015.[177]

United Arab Emirates

In May 2012, it was reported that the United Arab Emirates was in the final negotiation stages to purchase several V-22s. The UAE intends to use the Osprey to support special forces, possible use includes in territorial island disputes with Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. Both UAE and the Pentagon seek a $58 million unit cost.[178][179]


Pre-production full-scale development aircraft used for flight testing. These are unofficially considered A-variants after the 1993 redesign.[180]
Proposed airborne early warning and control variant. The Royal Navy studied this AEW variant as a replacement for its current fleet of carrier-based Sea King ASaC.7 helicopters.[181]
The U.S. Navy considered an HV-22 to provide combat search and rescue, delivery and retrieval of special warfare teams along with fleet logistic support transport. It chose the MH-60S for this role in 2001.[160] Naval Air Systems Command's 2011/2012 V-22 Osprey Guidebook lists the HV-22 for the U.S. Navy with the USAF and USMC variants.[182]
The proposed anti-submarine warfare variant. The U.S. Navy studied the SV-22 in the 1980s to replace S-3 and SH-2 aircraft.[161]
Basic U.S. Marine Corps transport; original requirement for 552 (now 360). The Marine Corps is the lead service in the development of the V-22 Osprey. The Marine Corps variant is an assault transport for troops, equipment and supplies, capable of operating from ships or from expeditionary airfields ashore. It is replacing the Marine Corps' CH-46E and has replaced the CH-53D.[183][184]
MV-22B with upgraded software and improved temperature controls.[185]
The U.S. Air Force variant for the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). It conducts long-range, special operations missions, and is equipped with extra wing fuel tanks and an AN/APQ-186 terrain-following radar, along with other special operations equipment such as the AN/ALQ-211.[186][187][188][189] The fuel capacity is increased by 588 gallons (2,230 L) with two inboard wing tanks; three auxiliary tanks (200 or 430 gal) can also be added in the cabin.[190] The CV-22 replaced the MH-53 Pave Low.[24]


 United States

Notable accidents

The V-22 Osprey had 7 hull-loss accidents with a total of 36 fatalities: During testing from 1991 to 2000 there were four crashes resulting in 30 fatalities.[31] Since becoming operational in 2007, the V-22 has had three crashes resulting in six fatalities, and several minor incidents. The aircraft's accident history has generated some controversy over its perceived safety.[197]

Aircraft on display

Specifications (MV-22B)

Data from Norton,[199] Boeing,[200] Bell guide,[68] Naval Air Systems Command,[201] and USAF CV-22 fact sheet[186]

General characteristics
  • Crew: Four (pilot, copilot and two flight engineers/crew chiefs)
  • Capacity:
    • 24 troops (seated), 32 troops (floor loaded), or
    • 20,000 lb (9,070 kg) of internal cargo, or up to 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) of external cargo (dual hook)
    • Growler light internally transportable ground vehicle[202][203]
  • Length: 57 ft 4 in (17.5 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 38 ft 0 in (11.6 m)
  • Wingspan: 45 ft 10 in (14 m)
  • Width with rotors: 84 ft 7 in (25.8 m)
  • Height: 22 ft 1 in/6.73 m; overall with nacelles vertical (17 ft 11 in/5.5 m; at top of tailfins)
  • Disc area: 2,268 ft² (212 m²)
  • Wing area: 301.4 ft² (28 m²)
  • Empty weight: 33,140 lb (15,032 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 47,500 lb (21,500 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 60,500 lb (27,400 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Allison T406/AE 1107C-Liberty turboshafts, 6,150 hp (4,590 kW) each


  • 1× 7.62 mm (0.308 in) M240 machine gun or 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun on ramp, removable
  • 1× 7.62 mm (.308 in) GAU-17 minigun, belly-mounted, retractable, video remote control in the Remote Guardian System [optional][101][206]
  • Notable appearances in media

    (For V-22 appearances in fiction, and for fictional V-22-based aircraft, respectively.)

    See also

    Related development
    Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

    Related lists




    • Markman, Steve and Bill Holder. "Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey Tilt-Engine VTOL Transport (U.S.A.)". Straight Up: A History of Vertical Flight. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-7643-1204-9.
    • Norton, Bill. Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, Tiltrotor Tactical Transport. Earl Shilton, Leicester, UK: Midland Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-85780-165-2.
    • O'Hanlon, Michael E. ISBN 0-8157-6437-5.
    • Schinasi, Katherine V. ISBN 1-4289-4682-9.
    • Whittle, Richard. ISBN 1-4165-6295-8.

    External links

    • Official Boeing V-22 site
    • Official Bell V-22 site
    • V-22 Osprey web
    • V-22 Osprey history on
    • CV-22 fact sheet on USAF site
    • V-22 page on
    • V-22 Osprey page on
    • "The V-22 Osprey", Documentary on the V-22 In Iraq
    • "Flight of the Osprey", U.S. Navy video of V-22 operations
    • Cutaway drawing of V-22 prototype
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