The Navy is in the early stages of building its own variant of the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to perform its critical Carrier-Onboard-Delivery mission to delivery forces, supplies and weapons to forward-stationed ships at sea.
The service plans to procure 44 new CMV-22B Ospreys for the COD mission, replacing the 1960’s era C-2 Greyhound aircraft. The C-2 Greyhound is a twin-engine, high-wing cargo aircraft first introduced in the 1960s. Since that time, 35 C-2s have been in the Navy inventory, service officials said.
Unlike the C-2 fixed wing aircraft, which requires a catapult to lift off of the deck of a carrier, the Osprey tiltrotor can both reach airplane speeds of 220mph and also hover like a helicopter such that it can come in for vertical landings on the carrier deck.
“280mph is the maximum speed,” Rick Lemaster, Director for Business Development, Bell Boeing, told Scout Warrior in an interview.
The Navy has contracted Bell-Boeing to develop the engineering changes needed to meet this range requirement, as well as the other changes, to enable the CMV-22B to fulfill Navy's COD mission.
New Technologies for the Navy Osprey
The new Navy Osprey variant will be engineered with some new technologies and additional fuel carrying capacity to achieve a longer range than the existing MV-22 Marine Corps Osprey, however the Navy and Bell-Boeing are taking special measure to maximize commonality between the two services’ variants.
“Bell-Boeing will examine various methods to meet the range requirement, including additional fuel and how to carry it. The solution will be incorporated as a "cut-in production" engineering change to the MV-22B, producing the CMV-22B,” Navy spokesman Ensign Marc Rockwellpate told Scout Warrior.
The Navy’s Osprey will add more than 200 miles to the Nautical range of the existing Corps' variant of the aircraft in order to extend its reach out to sea on-board aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships.
“The Navy's operational range requirement for the Carrier Onboard Delivery mission is 1,150 nautical miles. This is required to provide long range aerial logistics support of the Seabase, and reflects an increase of approximately 200 nautical miles to the baseline MV-22B,” Rockwellpate said.
The new Osprey, slated to first be operational by 2021, will perform the full range of missions currently executed by the C-2s. This includes VIP transport, humanitarian relief mission and regular efforts to deliver food, spare parts and equipment for sailors aboard carriers. Also, C-2 aircraft has a reconfigurable cargo bay which can create space for 12-stretchers for medical evacuation and transport.
The existing Corps MV-22 Osprey is also known for what is called "mounted vertical maneuver" wherein Marines use the speed, range and maneuverability of the Osprey to fly in behind enemy lines, land vertically and conduct a range of operations, including assisting amphibious missions.
The Osprey can transport Marines, equipment and weapons systems with a combat radius of 450 miles. The new, in-development Navy variant will extend this combat radius to allow for ocean transport of supplies, equipment and weapons to assets on the open seas far from shore. The aircraft can also move important cargo between ships such as carriers and amphibs.
In addition, the Osprey is being developed as a tanker aircraft able to perform aerial refueling missions; the idea is to transport fuel and use a probe technology to deliver fuel to key aircraft such as an F/A-18 or F-35C.
The first Navy Ospreys will be procured in 2018 with some early “long-lead” items acquired in 2017, Lemaster said.
Some of the requirements for the new aircraft have already been established, there are other still in the process of being determined and refined.
“The Navy Osprey will have increased range and we are still working toward the engineered changes that will give them all the requirements and range they are looking for,” Brian Roby, Bell Field Manager, San Diego, told Scout Warrior in an interview.
While the Navy’s aerial delivery mission does not require an armed aircraft, there will be occasions which require the aircraft to operate from forward bases in a higher threat environment, Rockwellpate said.
The Marine Corps, however, is in the early stages of determining requirements to arm their MV-22 Osprey with rockets or other kinds of weapons.
“In order to decrease this risk, the CMV-22B will retain the MV-22B's survivability systems, which include a missile warning system as well as chaff and flares,” Rockwellpate explained.
The CMV-22B will also be configured with a high frequency radio to provide a redundant "Beyond line of Sight" safety of flight communications capability, reducing risk during long-range over-water flights to an underway Carrier Strike Group, he added.
“They are looking at all the requirements still. It’s going to have as a minimum as 400 cubic feet. What we have is about 439 cubic feet,” Roby said.
Also, in order to successfully perform the long-range aerial logistics support mission, the CMV-22B must be interoperable with US and international civil aviation and military air traffic management systems.
In preparation for these developments, the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet completed a military utility assessment several years ago wherein they conducted Osprey flights from Mayport, Fla., and Norfolk, Va., to the USS Harry Truman out at sea.
The idea for the flights was to assess the viability of the V-22 Osprey to perform COD missions to and from the deck of the aircraft carrier, Navy officials said.
(Kris Osborn - The National Interest)