Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey Multi Mission, Tilt-rotor Military Aircraft of United States

Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is an multi mission, tilt-rotor military aircraft with both vertical takeoff and landing and short takeoff and landing capabilities.

Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey
Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey

In the early 1980s Bell Helicopter Textron and Boeing Vertol began collaboration to develop a larger derivative of the XV-15 tilt-rotor demonstrator for the Joint Services Advanced Vertical Lift Aircraft programme. Combining the vertical lift capabilities of a helicopter with the fast-cruise forward flight efficiencies of a fixed-wing turboprop aircraft, the resulting Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey was awarded full-scale development in 1985.

   Within the BellBoing joint venture the work load was divided. The Bell Helicopter Textron manufactured and integrated the wings, nacelles, rotors, drive system, tail surfaced and aft ramp, engines, and performed final assembly. The Boeing Vertol manufactured and assembled the fuselage, cockpit, avionics, and flight controls.

   Initial requirements called for 913 Ospreys, comprising 52 MV-22A assault versions for the US Marine Corps and the US Army; 80 CV-22A long-range special forces transports for the US Air Force; and 50 for the US Navy. The US Navy also foresaw a need for up to 300 SV-22As for anti-submarine warfare.

   Six prototypes were produced and flight-testing started in 1989, but the programme suffered a serious setback in 1992 with the crash of the fourth prototype. Already under financial and political review, a serious reappraisal of the Osprey programme followed, with the ultimate conclusion that 300 (later 360) aircraft would be acquired for the US Marine Corps only.

   In 1994 production authorisation 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 over the programme, but this most important of future combat aircraft reached initial operatrional capability with the US Marine Corps during 2001-2002. Pre-production deliveries to the US Air Force and US Navy started in 2003. Finally the Osprey was officially adopted and its full-scale production began in 2007. The initial production rate was 11 machines per year, which was stepped up to 24-48 machines per year by 2012. Since its introduction the Osprey complemented the fleet of the US forces helicopters.

Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey Export

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

   The Bell Boeing Osprey has greater speed, range and lift capability over conventional helicopters. It can operate from ships, as well as from the rough frontline airfields. It can carry 9 000 kg internally or 6 800 kg externally. The MV-22A operated by the US Marine Corps accomodates up to 24 troops, or 12 litters and medical attendants. The Osprey can carry various combinations of troops, weapons or vehicles. In the near future the Osprey will be capable of refueling other aircraft and helicopters in the air.

   This machine can be armed with 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine guns, or 7.62 mm minigun on its ramp. A gun turret system was also developed and integrated in its belly, but was found of limited use. A Gatling gun under the nose is planned for the future upgrades. Also there are plans to equip the V-22 with of air-to-ground missiles like Hellfire or Griffin on its wing hardpoints.

   Mounted in wingtip nacelles, the engines can be swiveled through 97.5° and drive three-bladed prop-rotors through interconnected drive shafts. It takes just 12 seconds fro the nacelles to swivel and switch between helicopter and aircraft modes. For shipboard stowage, the main planes pivot centrally to rotate along the fuselage top, the prop-rotor blades also folding in parallel.

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

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