At a briefing here Monday, the Pentagon’s V-22 Osprey program manager presented a long list of countries that had shown some interest in acquiring the Bell-Boeing tiltrotor. Marine Corps Col. Greg Masiello cautioned that only Israel had firmed up a contract and that his office’s contact with some of the others was still in the early stages. Nevertheless, the list is interesting and worth repeating: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, U.A.E. and the UK.
Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey
The U.S. Marine Corps demonstrated the capability of the V-22 Osprey to operate to allied nation platforms by landing the tiltrotor on the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga and dock landing ship JS Shimokita on June 14. MV-22 Ospreys performed takeoffs and landings on the ships during Dawn Blitz 2013, a multinational amphibious exercise off the coast of California. Japan and France are among nations that have expressed interest in acquiring the tiltrotor, including “more than three” nations that are holding serious discussions, U.S.
The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) awarded the Bell Boeing team a five-year contract on June 12 to supply 99 V-22 Osprey tiltrotors. The second multiyear procurement (MYPII) contract, with an earlier $1.4 billion contract award in December, has a total value of $6.5 billion. It specifies 92 MV-22s for the Marine Corps and seven CV-22s for the Air Force for delivery through September 2019.
Work is scheduled to begin this summer on a $13 million Chicago vertiport, more than 20 years after it was first proposed. The near west side, 10-acre site at 14th & Wood is owned by the Illinois Medical District Commission (IMD) and will be financed privately and developed by Nighthawk Services.
Nighthawk president Mike Conklin told AIN that he expects final approvals within weeks and groundbreaking in “late July or early August.” Construction will take approximately 12 months.
The U.S. Navy restarted the VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program by issuing a final request for proposals on May 3. The next day, Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) officially welcomed a new type into the presidential fleet–the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor–which will be used in a support role to carry White House staff and reporters following the President.
Following Israeli requests for advanced defense equipment, the U.S. has agreed “an unprecedented release of capabilities,” according to a senior Pentagon official. Israel will receive Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotors; KC-135 tankers; AESA radar retrofits for its F-15 and F-16 fighters; and anti-radiation missiles. The new approvals were made public during U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s visit to Israel and other countries in the Middle East this week.
Bell Helicopter unveiled its next-generation tiltrotor on April 10 at the Army Aviation Association of America (Quad A) annual convention in Fort Worth, Texas. Bell intends to enter the V-280 Valor in the U.S.
March 6 will be a big day for helicopter OEMs and could shape the future of the industry for decades to come. Phase One proposals are due into the Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate by tomorrow that likely will lead to the construction of Joint Multi-Role demonstration aircraft (JMR TD) that could fly as early as 2017 and lead to the start of production aircraft between 2025 and 2030.
The first of up to 12 Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors are joining Marine Helicopter Squadron (HMX) 1, the unit tasked with transporting the President, other VIPs and their entourages. The Marine Corps was expected to take formal delivery of the first HMX-1 MV-22 last month. The MV-22s are replacing the CH-46E Sea Knights attached to the squadron and are being modified with upgraded communications equipment and seating. They are not expected to be used to transport the President.
Bell Helicopter is on a mission, to diversify its business model. CEO John Garrison wants to increase the company’s share of revenues from the civil sector, now estimated at 40 percent of its overall 2012 results of $4.2 billion.