As of 1 Jun 99
By Gidge Dady
V-22 Public Affairs
        Naval Air Station PATUXENT RIVER, Md. –The first low rate initial production MV-22 aircraft arrived here May 27 just a couple weeks after being rolled off the assembly line in Arlington, Texas.  This milestone marks a new phase in the program that gets the Osprey one step closer to the fleet.
        The 1200-mile ferry flight from Arlington included stops at Dobbins Air Force Base, Marietta, GA and at Marine Corps Air Facility, Quantico, VA to refuel. The landing at Quantico was historical because this site is the first Marine base to see the new Osprey. Pilots Lt. Col. Keith Sweaney, Lt. Col. Jim Shaffer, Maj. Mike Westman, Maj. Mike Murphy, and Maj. Jim Schafer are the first V-22 operational test pilots to log in flight time in the new production aircraft.
         “The flight was smooth and uneventful.  We climbed to 15,500 feet and reached 306 knots of ground speed and had a great flight.  The aircraft handled quite well,” said Westman who flew the aircraft from Arlington to Quantico.  Prior to this flight, the new MV-22 aircraft completed 25 hours of required acceptance flights at the Arlington contractor facility before being turned over to the Marine Corps.
        The long wait for the Marine Corps to get their first production tiltrotor culminated on May 14 during the MV-22 roll out and delivery ceremony at the Bell Helicopter Textron Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas.  During the ceremony, General Terrance Dake, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps said, “I wish the thousands of U.S. Marines who will be using this revolutionary aircraft could be here today.  I wish you could look into the faces of those young men and women of America and they could look into your faces, the artisans and craftsmen of the V-22. You would be proud and they would be grateful, as I am grateful to you,” said Dake.
        “The Osprey will carry the Marine Corps into the 21st Century. In future conflicts around the world this and other V-22 aircraft will carry them into harm’s way.  Marines will fly this aircraft in an environment that only God controls.  They will depend on these aircraft to carry them over hostile lands where there is no safe haven and into battles where defeat is not an option.  This V-22 can do the job more efficiently, more quickly, and we can count on it to bring them home safely. It is a historic moment in aviation history and for the Corps.”
        The first production MV-22, which is referred to as # 11 because it is the eleventh aircraft produced, is one of four low rate initial production aircraft that will be delivered to the Marine Corps in 1999. These aircraft will be owned, operated and maintained by members of the V-22 Multi-Service Operational Test Team who will begin training in preparation for the next big test phase, Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL). These aircraft will be used in OPEVAL which starts in October 1999 and continues through the spring of 2000.
         Aircraft #11 is the first of 360 production Ospreys that the Marine Corps will procure over the next 20 years.  The initial operational capability date for the MV-22 is 2001.