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By Julian Nettlefold

05 Jul 12. For many years BATTLESPACE has followed the development of the V-22 Osprey with great interest. This immensely versatile machine was plagued with teething problems in its early day as it was developed using leading edge technology never tried before. Sadly a number of deaths in the development states sullied what is a very capable and versatile aircraft.

The Editor joined a team of chosen journalist on July 5th to fly in the Osprey and see its true capabilities.

Colonel Christopher Mungo Seymour, USMC, gave an upbeat description of his flying hours in the Osprey. He had led a team that brought four aircraft over from North Carolina to Farnborough in a 15 hour flight time taking 3 days with stop overs on the way. Two aircraft were the original Block ‘B’ models and two Block ‘C’ aircraft with a weather radar.

“This machine is a gorilla compared to the CH-47,” he said, “The difference between the Osprey and a conventional helicopter is that troops can transit directly into theatre trouble spots without transitioning to a helicopter. This leaves any need for acclimatisation and means that the troops are fresher when they land. We had a mission to rescue troops in Afghanistan which only the Osprey could have achieved. The addition of in-flight refuelling means that we can execute a 36 hour mission from inception to completion without transitioning to another aircraft with a combat load of 12000 lbs. with a range of 1000 Nautical Miles or 4.6 hours at a top speed of 200 to 220 knots at 2-500ft. The V-22 Osprey can carry 17-24 soldiers against the CH-46 5-6.”

The Programme

The current Programme requires 12 USMC squadrons and two AFSCOC squadrons. 181 aircraft have been fielded, 152 of which are the MV 22 and 26 CV-22 for SOCOM. In December of this year the Company expects an order for 98 aircraft. There is another potential order pending in 2013 for 12 MRX-1 aircraft for the Presidential Support squadrons.

The mission envelope of the V-22 Osprey includes: Combat Assault Support Missions; Battalion size lifts; Quick reaction missions; humanitarian relief as practiced in Haiti during the earthquake; MEDEVAC from submarines as practiced with the USS Wyoming and battlefield Commander Transportation. The U.S. Navy is looking at the Osprey to replace its C-2 Greyhound aircraft; the Osprey also has CSAR applications given its speed and ability to deliver casualties direct to hospital and Casualty Clearing Stations.

Bell-Boeing is actively marketing the aircraft overseas and looking for partners, they would not reveal the launch customer.

The Flight

The Osprey taxied out to the runway and in a short time was airborne. When the aircraft reached 200ft an alarm sounded and the aircraft went from vertical to normal flight with no change to the handling of the aircraft. We flew from Farnborough around to Petersfield and back with a clear view of the countryside below and landed at Farnborough 45 minutes later. Quite clearly the V-22 Osprey has overcome it teething problems and is mow a fully mature platform giving its users a huge force multiplier effect with the ability to conduct missions deep into territory. Originally designed to carry Marines over the beachhead and deep into enemy territory, quite clearly the various uses for this unique platform are just beginning to be realised.

Development of the V-22 Concept

Developed from the 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 Be

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