V-22 Osprey, Bell-Boeing

V-22 Osprey Photo by Frank Grealish

The V-22 Osprey is destined to be the first operational tilt-rotor aircraft. It has the configuration of the smaller V-15, with rotating engine pods set at the wingtips. The fuselage is box-like. The wing is set above the fuselage, and can rotate to be parallel with the fuselage, for storage. The tiltrotor aircraft takes off and lands like a helicopter. Once airborne, its engine nacelles can be rotated to convert the aircraft to a turboprop airplane capable of high-speed, high-altitude flight. The USAF received the first CV-22 Osprey in November 2006. On 8 April 2010, a CV-22 crashed in south-east Afghanistan, approx 11 km west of Qalat city, during a nighttime mission. Four people were killed, numerous others were injured in this accident. There have been numerous safety incidents with the V-22 over the last several years, but this was the first fatal crash since December 2000.

Type: Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey
Country: USA
Function: multi-mission military aircraft
Year: 2006
Crew: 3; 2 pilots
Engines: 2 * Rolls-Royce AE1107C-Liberty turboshafts, 6150 hp (4,586 kW) each.
Total Wing Span: 25.55 m
Length fuselage: 17.48 m
Width Rotors turning: 25.55 m
Rotor diameter: 11.58 m
Height: 5.38 m (stabilizer), 6.63 m (Nacelles vertical)
Empty Weight: 15032 kg
Max.Weight Vert. T/O: 23495 kg
Max.Weight: 27442 kg
Max. Speed: 510 km/h
Rate of climb: 11.8 m/s
Ceiling: 7925 m
Max. Range (ferry): 4239 km
Armament: up to 8463 kg (20000 pounds) of internal or external cargo.

V-22 Osprey Description & Purpose

The V-22 Osprey is a joint service multi-role combat aircraft utilizing tiltrotor technology to combine the vertical performance of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed wing aircraft. With its engine nacelles and rotors in vertical position, it can take off, land and hover like a helicopter, but once airborne, its engine nacelles can be rotated to convert the aircraft to a turboprop airplane capable of high-speed, high-altitude flight. This combination allows the V-22 to fill an operational niche no other aircraft can approach.

The Osprey can carry 24 combat troops, or up to 20,000 pounds of internal cargo or 15,000 pounds of external cargo, at twice the speed of a helicopter. It includes crosscoupled transmissions so either engine can power the rotors if one engine fails. The rotors can fold and the wing rotates so the aircraft can be stored on board an aircraft carrier or assault ship.

V-22 Osprey Development

The Osprey's development processes have been long and controversial. When the development budget, first set at $2.5 billion in 1986, had reached $30 billion in 1988, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney zeroed out the budget, but was overruled by Congress. The first flight occurred on March 19, 1989.

The MV-22B is equipped with a glass cockpit, which incorporates four Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) and two Communications Display Units (CDUs), allowing the pilots to display a variety of layers, including: digimaps centered or decentered on current position, FLIR imagery, primary flight instruments, navigation (TACAN, VOR, ILS, GPS, INS) and system status. The flight director panel of the Cockpit Management System (CMS) allows for fully-coupled (aka: autopilot) functions which will take the aircraft from forward flight into a 50' hover with no pilot interaction other than programming the system.

The aircraft was originally designed to be pressurized, but the rotating wing (for shipboard stowage) makes it difficult to properly seal the cabin. As a result, pilots and aircrew must wear oxygen masks while flying above 10,000 feet (3,000 m). The Osprey uses an on-board oxygen generating system (OBOGS) which enriches ambient air by filtering out the oxygen. The nitrogen remaining is then routed to the fuel cells to fill the ullage with inert gas as the JP-5 is consumed.

The MV-22 is a fly-by-wire aircraft with triple redundant flight control systems. With the nacelles straight up in conversion mode (90 degrees), the flight computers command the aircraft to fly like a helicopter, with cyclic forces being applied to a conventional swashplate at the rotor hub. With the nacelles in airplane mode (0 degrees) the flaperons, rudder and elevator fly the aircraft like an airplane. This is a gradual transition which occurs over the entire 96 degree range of the nacelles. The lower the nacelles, the greater effect of the airplane-mode control surfaces.

The Osprey was developed and is built jointly by Bell Helicopter Textron, who manufacture and integrate the wing, nacelles, rotors, drive system, tail surfaces, and aft ramp, as well as integrating the Rolls-Royce engines; and Boeing Helicopters, who manufacture and integrate the fuselage, cockpit, avionics, and flight controls. Portions are manufactured in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Amarillo, Texas. Final assembly and delivery occurs in Amarillo. The joint development team is known as Bell-Boeing.

V-22 Customers / Variants

The V-22 is in production for the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force Special Operations and the U.S. Navy by the Bell Boeing Program Office, located in Amarillo, Texas, and managed and operated jointly by Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., in Forth Worth, Texas, and Boeing Rotorcraft Systems in Philadelphia.

The U.S. Marine Corps has a current requirement for 360 MV-22Bs to perform combat assault and combat support missions. The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command has a current requirement for 50 CV-22s configured for terrain-following, low-level, highspeed flight in a variety of special operations missions. The U.S. Navy has a future requirement for 48 HV-22s that will perform several combat support missions. The Marine Corps established its first fleet V-22 squadron, the VMM-263 “Thunder Chickens,” on March 3, 2006. The squadron will be fully operational in 2007. The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command took delivery of the first CV-22 configured for operational missions on March 1, 2006, and will begin training at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. this year. The CV-22 is scheduled to be fully operational in 2009.

The United States Marine Corps is the lead service in the development of the V-22 Osprey. The Marine Corps version, the MV-22B, will be an assault transport for troops, equipment and supplies, and will be capable of operating from ships or from expeditionary airfields ashore. The planned, but as yet unfunded, U.S. Navy HV-22 will provide combat search and rescue, delivery and retrieval of special warfare teams along with fleet logistic support transport. The CV-22 operated by the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) will conduct long-range special operations missions, combat rescue, among other special missions. The V-22 Osprey will replace the Marine Corps CH-46E and CH-53D. However, it will not replace the Air Force's MH-53 Pave Low helicopters.

V-22 General Characteristics

Propulsion: Two Rolls-Royce AE1107C, 6,150 shp (4,586 kW) each
Length: Fuselage: 57.3 ft (17.48.20 m); Stowed: 63.0 ft (19.08 m
Width Rotors turning: 84.6 ft (25.55 m); Stowed: 18.5 ft (5.61 m)
Height: Nacelles vertical: 21.75 ft (6.63 m); Stabilizer: 17.11 ft (5.38 m)
Rotor Diameter 38.0 ft, (11.58 m)
Vert. T/O Max.Gross Wt. 52,600 lb (23,495 kg)
Useful Load: 19,460 lb (8,463 kg)
Speed: 250-300 kt (463-555.6 km/h)
Range: 638 nm (1,182 km) amphibious assault with troops;
2,289 nm (4,239 km) self-deployment
Crew: 3

V-22 Limitations

Because of the extreme downdraft of the propellers, Marines cannot rappel out the side doors as on conventional helicopters. Moreover, the engines would block the firing arc of side-mounted machine guns and so none can be fitted in these positions. Marines will use the rear ramp to exit and use the M240 as a rear mounted gun. A chin-mounted turret has also been proposed.

The Osprey's 38 foot (11.58 meters) proprotor diameter makes a conventional takeoff impossible, as the blades would strike the ground. With the nacelles set at 45 degrees or less to the vertical, it is capable of making shortened ground-roll takeoffs as well as vertical, helicopter-style departures.

V-22 Background

The Department of Defense approved the V-22 program for full production on September 28, 2005 after an exhaustive series of operational tests and evaluations which found the aircraft meets or exceeds Marine Corps mission requirements. Bell Boeing has delivered more than 70 aircraft and is modifying aircraft delivered before 2000 to the Block B operationally deployable configuration. Production will continue for more than a decade.
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