Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is an American multi-mission, tiltrotor military 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. 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 supplemented and then replaced their Boeing Vertol 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 transportation and medivac operations over Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Kuwait.

Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey
Class Aircraft
Type Transport
Manufacturer Bell Helicopter
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1989
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Japan View
United States of America 2007 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Boeing Rotorcraft Systems 1988 View
Bell Helicopter 1988 200 View

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. 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°. Other orientations are possible, such as the "80 Jump" takeoff which uses nacelles at 80° to quickly achieve high altitude and speed.

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


Heat from the V-22's engines can potentially damage the flight decks of ships. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) devised a temporary fix of portable heat shields placed under the engines, and determined that a long-term solution would require redesigning decks with heat resistant coating, passive thermal barriers, and ship structure changes. Similar changes are required for F-35B operations. In 2009, DARPA requested solutions for installing robust flight deck cooling. A heat-resistant anti-skid material called Thermion is being tested on USS Wasp.

In March 2014, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) issued a Combat Mission Need Statement to develop armor plates to protect passengers. NAVAIR worked with a Florida-based composite armor company and the Army Aviation Development Directorate to develop and deliver an armor solution by October 2014. The Advanced Ballistic Stopping System kit, costing $270,000, consists of 66 plates sized to fit along the V-22's interior bulkheads and deck, adding 800 lb (360 kg) of weight to the aircraft, affecting payload and unrefueled range, so it can be installed or removed when needed in hours and partially assembled in pieces for partial protection of specific areas. As of May 2015, 16 kits had been delivered to the USAF.

Engines

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.

In September 2013, Rolls-Royce announced it had increased the AE-1107C engine's power by 17 percent via the adoption of a new Block 3 turbine, an increase in fuel valve flow capacity, and accompanying software updates. The upgrade should increase the reliability in high-altitude, high-heat conditions and boost maximum payload limitations from 6,000 ft to 8,000 ft. A Block 4 upgrade is reportedly being examined, which may increase power by up to 26 percent, producing close to 10,000 hp, and improve fuel consumption.

In August 2014, the U.S. military issued a request for information (RFI) for a potential drop-in replacement for the AE-1107C engines. Submissions must have a power rating of no less than 6,100 shp (4,548.78 kW) at 15,000 rpm, operate at up to 25,000 ft (7,600 m) at up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius), and fit into the existing nacelles on the wings with minimal structural or external modifications. In September 2014, the US Navy was considering contracting for an alternative engine supplier in order to reduce costs. In the V-22 program, the Navy purchases engines separately from the aircraft themselves. The General Electric GE38 has been considered as a replacement, providing commonality with the CH-53K King Stallion.

Proprotors

Although either engine can power both proproters through the wing driveshaft, if a proprotor gearbox fails that proprotor cannot be feathered, and both engines must be stopped before an emergency landing. The aircraft's autorotation characteristics are poor partly because the rotors have low inertia.

The V-22 has a maximum rotor downwash speed above 80 knots, more than the 64 knots lower limit of a hurricane. The rotorwash usually prevents usage of the starboard door in hover, instead the rear ramp is used for rappelling and hoisting. Boeing has stated the V-22 design loses 10 percent 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. A V-22 must maintain at least 25 ft (7.6 m) of vertical separation between each other to avoid their rotor wake, which can cause turbulence and potentially lead to a loss of control.

Variants

  • V-22A 
  • CV-22B     
  • MV-22B 
  • EV-22 
  • HV-22 
  • SV-22 

U.S. Marine Corps

Since March 2000, VMMT-204 has conducted Marine Corps crew training for the V-22. On 3 June 2005, Marine Corps helicopter squadron Marine Medium Helicopter 263 (HMM-263) stood down to transition to the MV-22. On 8 December 2005, Lieutenant General James Amos, commander of II Marine Expeditionary Force, accepted 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, redesignated as VMM-263. On 23 March 2007, HMM-266 became Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 (VMM-266) at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina.

The MV-22 reached initial operational capability (IOC) with the U.S. Marine Corps on 13 June 2007. The Osprey has been replacing the CH-46 Sea Knight since 2007; the Sea Knight was retired in October 2014. On 10 July 2007, an MV-22 landed aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, the first time a V-22 had landed on a non-U.S. vessel.

On 13 April 2007, the Marine Corps announced the first V-22 combat deployment at Al Asad Airbase, Iraq. On 17 September 2007, 10 MV-22Bs of VMM-263 left for Iraq aboard USS Wasp. The decision to use a ship instead of self-deploying 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 Wasp's availability.

On arrival, they were used in Iraq's western Anbar province for cargo and troop movements, as well as riskier "aero-scout" missions. General David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, used one to visit troops around Iraq on Christmas Day 2007; as did then-presidential candidate Barack Obama during his 2008 tour of Iraq. Obtaining spare parts proved problematic. By July 2008, the V-22 had flown 3,000 sorties totaling 5,200 hours in Iraq. General George J. Trautman, III praised the V-22's increased speed and range over legacy helicopters, stating that "it turned his battle space from the size of Texas into the size of Rhode Island." Through 2009, V-22s had been fired upon several times by man-portable air-defense systems, and small arms with none lost to enemy fire.

A Government Accountability Office study reported that by January 2009, 12 MV-22s were operating in Iraq and they completed all assigned missions; mission capable rates averaged 57% to 68%, and an overall full mission capable rate of 6%. The report also stated that the aircraft had shown weakness in situational awareness, maintenance, shipboard operations and transport capability. The study concluded that "...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."

The MV-22 deployed to Afghanistan in November 2009 with VMM-261, 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 Taliban communication and supply lines. On 18 February 2011, Marine Commandant General James Amos indicated MV-22s deployed to Afghanistan had surpassed 100,000 flight hours and were noted as "the safest airplane, or close to the safest airplane” in the Marine Corps inventory.

In January 2010, the MV-22 was sent to Haiti as part of Operation Unified Response relief efforts after the earthquake there, the type's first humanitarian mission. In March 2011, two MV-22s from Kearsarge participated in a mission to rescue a downed USAF F-15E crew member during Operation Odyssey Dawn. On 2 May 2011, following Operation Neptune's Spear, the body of Osama bin Laden, founder of the al-Qaeda terrorist group, was flown by a MV-22 to the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in the Northern Arabian Sea, prior to his burial at sea.

In 2013, several MV-22s received communications and seating modifications to support the Marine One presidential transport squadron due to the urgent need for CH-53Es in Afghanistan. On 11 August 2013, two MV-22s from Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) made their debut ferrying Secret Service agents, White House staff, and press members from CGAS Cape Cod to Martha's Vineyard during the President's vacation. In May 2010, Boeing announced plans to submit the V-22 for the VXX presidential transport replacement.

Several Japanese politicians and Okinawa residents opposed a V-22 deployment to Japan in July 2012, mainly due to several high-profile accidents. On 14 June 2013, an MV-22 landed on the JDS Hyuga off the coast of California, the first time a V-22 had landed on a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel. In January 2014, a MV-22 landed aboard the French Mistral-class amphibious assault ship Dixmude. A Marine MV-22 landed on the ROKS Dokdo (LPH-6111) on 26 March 2015, marking the first landing of an Osprey on a Republic of Korea Navy amphibious ship.

From 2–5 August 2013, two MV-22s completed the longest distance Osprey tanking mission to date. Flying from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa alongside two KC-130J tanker aircraft, the Ospreys flew to Clark Air Base in the Philippines on 2 August, then to Darwin, Australia on 3 August, Townsville, Australia on 4 August, and finally rendezvoused with Bonhomme Richard on 5 August.

In 2013, the USMC formed an intercontinental response force, the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force for Crisis Response (SPMAGTF-CR-AF), equipped with V-22s outfitted with specialized communications equipment. In 2013, following Typhoon Haiyan, 12 MV-22s of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade were deployed to the Philippines for disaster relief operations. The V-22's capabilities were described as "uniquely relevant", being able to fly faster and with greater payload while moving essential supplies to remote sites throughout the island archipelago.

The V-22 deployment to Afghanistan was set to conclude in late 2013 with the drawdown of combat operations; however VMM-261 was directed to extend operations for a new role, casualty evacuation, for which it was better suited than helicopters as its speed better enabled casualties to reach a hospital within the 'golden hour'; they were fitted with medical equipment such as heart-monitors and basic triage supplies.

In 2014, the SPMAGTF-CR-AF supported the time-critical effort against the Ebola virus epidemic in Liberia, flying 1,200 people and 78,000 lb (35 t) of cargo in V-22s.

In November 2014, three MV-22Bs were placed on alert at Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait to be ready within 30 minutes to recover downed pilots during the Military intervention against ISIL. On 29 occasions between 1 November and 24 April 2015, two Ospreys and a KC-130J aerial tanker assigned to this Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP) mission spent 145 flight hours loitering, ready to perform rescue missions if required. The only pilot that was downed was a Jordanian, but he did not have a radio on him when he ejected and landed too close to ISIL forces.

U.S. Air Force

The Air Force's first operational CV-22 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 became part of the 58th SOW's fleet of aircraft used for training pilots and crew members for special operations use. On 16 November 2006, the Air Force officially accepted the CV-22 in a ceremony conducted at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The Air Force first used the V-22 on a non-training mission to perform search and rescue from Kirtland Air Force Base on 4 October 2007.

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. AFSOC declared that the 8th Special Operations Squadron reached Initial Operational Capability on 16 March 2009, with six CV-22s in service.

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. In November 2009, the 8th SO Squadron and its six CV-22s returned from a three-month deployment in Iraq.

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."

On 21 December 2013, three CV-22s came under small arms fire while on a mission to evacuate American civilians in Bor, South Sudan during the 2013 South Sudanese political crisis. The three aircraft were damaged and four crew wounded; the mission was aborted and the aircraft flew 500 mi (800 km) to Entebbe, Uganda. South Sudanese officials stated that the attackers were rebels. The CV-22s, of the 8th Special Operations Squadron, had flown to Bor over three countries across 790 nmi (910 mi; 1,460 km). The formation was hit 119 times, causing flight control failures and hydraulic and fuel leaks on all three aircraft. Due to fuel leaks, multiple air-to-air refuelings were performed en route. Following the South Sudan incident, AFSOC developed optional armor floor panels for the V-22.

On 3 July 2014, V-22 aircraft carried Delta Force commandos to a campsite in eastern Syria where Islamic State militants had held American and other hostages. The commandos quickly eliminated the militants at the site, but found that the hostages had been moved elsewhere and returned home empty handed.

The Air Force is looking to configure the CV-22 to perform combat search and rescue in addition to its primary long-range special operations transport mission. The Osprey would act as a complement to Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk and planned HH-60W rescue helicopters, being employed in scenarios were its ability to cover more ground quickly would be better suited to search and rescue than more nimble but slower helicopters.

Potential operators

U.S. Navy

The United States Navy could potentially employ the V-22 in search and rescue, transport and anti-submarine warfare roles. The V-22 program included navy 48 HV-22s, but none have been ordered. One proposal is to replace the C-2 Greyhound with the V-22 for Carrier Onboard Delivery duties. One specific advantage of the V-22 in this role is the ability to deliver supplies and people between non-carriers ships beyond helicopter range. A MV-22 landed and refueled onboard Nimitz as part of an evaluation for COD in October 2012. Further cargo handling trials took place in 2013 on Harry S. Truman.

V-22 proponents have said that it is capable of similar speed, payload capacity and lift performance as the C-2, the V-22 can also carry greater payloads over short ranges; up to 20,000 lb, and can also carry suspended external loads. The C-2 can only land on carriers, requiring further distribution to smaller vessels via helicopters; the Osprey has been certified for operating upon amphibious ships, aircraft carriers, and logistics ships. The V-22 could also 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. Boeing designed a special frame for the V-22 to carry the Lockheed Martin F-35's F135 engine to ships. Bell and Boeing have pitched the V-22 to the Navy as a platform for various missions, such as communications, electronic warfare, or aerial refueling; the Navy have a known gap in tactical aerial refueling, currently handled by Marine KC-130s, Air Force KC-10 Extenders, and KC-135 Stratotankers with hose-and-drogue delivery systems.

On 5 January 2015, the Navy and Marines signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to buy the V-22 for the COD mission, and was confirmed in the Navy's FY 2016 budget. Designated HV-22, four aircraft would be initially bought each year from 2018-2020. The Navy's variant will incorporate an extended-range fuel system, a high-frequency radio for over-the-horizon communications, and a public address system to communicate with passengers. While the MV-22 has a range of 428 nmi (493 mi; 793 km) when carrying 24 Marines, the Navy has a requirement for an 1,150 nmi (1,320 mi; 2,130 km) unrefueled range a lower passenger/payload capacity.

India

The Indian Aviation Research Centre (ARC) is interested in acquiring four V-22 Ospreys for the purposes of personnel evacuation in hostile conditions, logistic supplies, and deployment of the Special Frontier Force (SFF) on the border. India had seen the Osprey's utility in relief operations of the 2015 Nepal earthquake. The deal could be worth some $300 million. Elements of the Indian Navy have also looked at the V-22 rather than the E-2D for Airborne early warning and control to replace the short-range Kamov Ka-31.

Israel

Israel has shown interest in the V-22. In 2009, Israel reportedly favored the Sikorsky CH-53K over the V-22. In 2011, Israel was interested in using the V-22 to support special operations and search & rescue missions. 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.

On 22 April 2013, an agreement was finalized to sell the V-22 to the Israel Air Force. The Israeli aircraft are to be moved to the front of the production queue, jumping ahead of some USMC deliveries. They were expected to arrive as early as 2015. These aircraft are to be optimized for special operations and rescue missions. Israel is interested in doubling the purchase from six MV-22B Ospreys to 12 aircraft. The initial order of six aircraft could cost up to $1.13 billion including additional equipment and support. In October 2014, media reports indicated that Israel is deferring or canceling its procurement of the V-22 due to budget restraints and changing policies. However, although the Letter of Agreement offering a $400 million discount and early delivery formally expired, the deal is still on and the Defense Minister decided to wait until elections form a new cabinet in March 2015 to push for cabinet approval for it.

Japan

In 2012, former Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto ordered an investigation of the costs of V-22 operations. The V-22 exceeds current Japan Self-Defense Forces helicopters in terms of range, speed, and payload. The ministry anticipates deployments to the Nansei Islands and the Senkaku Islands, as well as in multinational cooperation with the U.S. Japan is considering plans to have V-22s in service in a maritime role by as early as 2015. On 21 November 2014, the Japanese Ministry of Defense officially decided to procure 17 V-22s, with deliveries planned from FY 2014 to FY 2019. In January 2015, Japan's parliament approved a defense budget with funding for five V-22s.

South Korea

In February 2015, the South Korean Army showed interest in the V-22 for delivering special forces to islands in the Yellow Sea near North Korean territory; talks are to be held during 2015 on a possible Osprey buy.

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. Both UAE and the Pentagon seek a $58 million unit cost.

Role V/STOL military transport aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Bell Helicopter
Boeing Rotorcraft Systems
First flight 19 March 1989
Introduction 13 June 2007
Status In service
Primary users United States Marine Corps
United States Air Force
Produced 1988–present
Number built 200+ as of 2014
Program cost US$35.6 billion after planned procurement of 408 aircraft
Unit cost MV-22: US$72.1 million (flyaway cost for FY2015)
Developed from Bell XV-15


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)
    1× Growler light internally transportable ground vehicle
  • 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

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 275 knots (509 km/h, 316 mph) at sea level / 305 kn (565 km/h; 351 mph) at 15,000 ft (4,600 m)
  • Cruise speed: 241 kn (277 mph, 446 km/h) at sea level
  • Stall speed: 110 kn (126 mph, 204 km/h) in airplane mode
  • Range: 879 nmi (1,011 mi, 1,627 km)
  • Combat radius: 390 nmi (426 mi, 722 km)
  • Ferry range: 1,940 nmi (2,230 mi, 3,590 km) with auxiliary internal fuel tanks
  • Service ceiling: 25,000 ft (7,620 m)
  • Rate of climb: 2,320–4,000 ft/min (11.8 m/s)
  • Glide ratio: 4.5:1
  • Disc loading: 20.9 lb/ft² at 47,500 lb GW (102.23 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.259 hp/lb (427 W/kg)

Armament

  • 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.

End notes