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Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey Tiltrotor VTOL Transport (2007)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 1/29/2015

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey has surmounted its past to become a capable multi-mission tiltrotor system - primarily serving the USMC.

In 1981, the United States Department of Defense enacted the "Joint-Service Vertical Take-Off/Landing Experimental" (JVX) program intending to secure a specialized aircraft with vertical take-off and horizontal flight capabilities beyond that of a traditional. The initiative was related to the failed 1980 Iran Hostage Crisis rescue attempt (Operation Eagle Claw) that left eight American service personnel dead and wreckages strewn across the Iranian desert. As such, the American military sought to right the wrongs of old and procure a multi-faceted aircraft design capable of short-field operations with exceptional hauling capabilities for the class. The United States was still locked in a war of words and technology with the Soviet Union in the Cold War which would last until 1991. As such, defense spending was rather open to vastly new technologies to provide American with the upper hand in future war. While the United States Army initially headed the JVX program requirements, the craft would eventually stock the inventory of the US Marine Corps and United States Air Force.

From the start, various concerns lent their interest to the JVX program including foreign participants. However, it would become a joint development venture of Bell Helicopter and Boeing Vertol that would see the JVX to fruition. Bell Helicopter Textron had already developed the XV-15 tiltrotor technology demonstrator, which had seen its first flight on May 3rd, 1977, and proved the VTOL-to-horizontal-flight concept sound. The design allowed for take-off in much the same way as a conventional helicopter while its tiltrotor functionality allowed the rotors to be lowered in a "puller" arrangement and, thusly, propell the aircraft through the sky as a conventional fixed-wing type. The benefits of such a configuration were largely in speed and range. Two XV-15A prototypes were built and tested through NASA. The Bell Boeing submission was, in effect, an enlarged form of the successful XV-15 series prototype. The submission was officially accepted and six flyable prototypes were ordered (later reduced to five).

On January, 15th, 1985, the US DoD formally assigned the designator of "V-22" and nickname of "Osprey" to the JVX program product. The first V-22 prototype was unveiled in May of 1988. However, the United States Army left the program during the year due to rising costs and short-term commitments elsewhere, leaving the USMC and USAF as primary players in 1983. The program then suffered through the requisite "Political Hell" in which several moves nearly killed the project (the program was nearly cancelled in full in 1992). However, there proved enough evidence of the feasibility, and capabilities inherent in the V-22 to proceed with the project for the interim. First horizontal flight of an MV-22 (designation for USMC V-22s) was recorded on March 19th, 1989 to which a vertical flight then followed on September 14th of that year. Sea trials were conducted on the deck of the USS Wasp in December of 1990.

Despite the progress, the V-22 program saw the loss of the fourth and fifth prototypes to accidents. This forced Bell Boeing back to the engineering boards in an effort to refine the initial V-22 design. The delay lasted from 1992 to 1993 to which the modified airframe emerged as the "V-22B" (resulting in original V-22s being redesignated to "V-22A"). The V-22B was utilized in a myriad of additional testing from thereon. An evaluation prototype was sent to the Naval Air Warfare Test Center in Maryland in 1997.

The V-22 faced two more accidents that claimed the life of 19 marines during April and December of 2000 (30 fatalities in all would be attributed to V-22 development). The much-publicized accidents pushed its formal evaluation period to June of 2005 while additional safety measures were implemented via improved hydraulics and updated system software. By this time, the program's developmental costs had ballooned to $27 billion from the original $2.5 billion projected. Serial full-rate production was granted on September 28th, 2005 to which the V-22 was introduced into American military service on June 13th, 2007. Its primary users became the United States Marine Corps followed by the United States Air Force. At the time of its inception, the V-22 became the world's first operational tiltrotor design anywhere in the world - another American aviation "first".

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Specifications for the
Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey
Tiltrotor VTOL Transport

Focus Model: Bell Boeing MV-22B Osprey
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Bell Industries / Boeing Company - USA
Initial Year of Service: 2007
Production: 160

Crew: 3 + 24

Length: 57.41 ft (17.5 m)
Width: 84.65 ft (25.80 m)
Height: 22.08ft (6.73 m)
Weight (Empty): 33,069 lb (15,000 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 60,407 lb (27,400 kg)

Powerplant: 2 x Rolls-Royce T406-AE 1107C-Liberty turboshaft engines generating 6,150 shaft horsepower and driving 2 x three-blade propeller systems.

Maximum Speed: 316 mph (509 kmh; 275 kts)
Maximum Range: 1,011 miles (1,627 km)
Service Ceiling: 25,000 ft (7,620 m; 4.7 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 3,160 feet-per-minute (963 m/min)

Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:
1 x 7.62mm M240 General Purpose Machine gun OR 1 x 12.7mm Browning M2 Heavy Machine Gun on flexible mounting at rear cargo ramp door.

XV-15 - Original Bell Tilt-Rotor Technology Demonstrator on which the V-22 is based on.

V-22 - Base Series Designation

V-22A - Pre-Production Prototype Aircraft; five produced, two lost to accident.

MV-22 - USMC Designation

MV-22B - Base USMC Transport model

MV-22C - USMC variant; updated software and performance.

CV-22B - USAF variant for Special Operations; long-range external fuel tanks; terrain following/avoidance radar.

HV-22 - Possible USN production designation; navalized V-22 with folding rotor blades and collapsing main wing assembly for carrier storage.

HV-22 SAR - Proposed USN search and rescue platform.

EV-22 - Proposed Airborne Early Warning and Control variant.

SV-22 - Proposed Anti-Submarine Warfare variant.

Israel (expected); United States