Released: 22 Sep 2000
by Gidge Dady
Naval Air System Command V-22 Public Affairs
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, Patuxent River, Md. (AFPN) -- The arrival of the first CV-22 Osprey at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., ushers in a new era in aviation for the Air Force and U.S. Special Ope rations Command.
The new CV-22 flew from the Bell Helicopter Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas, where it was converted from a MV-22 to a CV-22, to its new home at Edwards AFB. The conversion began last June at the Bell facility, where two MV-22 aircraft were reconfigured with CV-22 production wiring and CV-22-unique systems such as multi-mode radar for terrain following/terrain avoidance, auxiliary fuel tanks and an integrated electronic warfare suite.
"The arrival of this aircraft means combined developmental and operational testing for the USSOCOM's number one acquisition priority," said Lt. Col. Jim Shaffer, CV-22 Multi-service operational test director. "This aircraft is the first revolution in aviation to hit (Edwards AFB) since the breaking of the sound barrier," he said. "There have been lots of airplanes and helicopters tested here, but they all have one thing in common, they are all evolutionary continuations of a concept. Tiltrotor is a revolutionary step in national capability being developed and evaluated for the warfighter CV-22 Integrated Test Team."
For the next two years, the CV-22 ITT, comprised of Air Force, Marine Corps, Bell Boeing and Raytheon personnel, will take the aircraft through a rigorous flight test program that will culminate in operational test and evaluation in August 2002. Beginning immediately, the aircraft will enter testing of its electronic warfare suite in the anechoic chamber facility and then follow on with the risk reduction flight test program.
The other CV-22 is scheduled to join the flight test program at Edwards AFB at the end of September.
The newest addition to the USSOCOM aviation arsenal was unveiled July 25, in a roll-out ceremony held at the Bell Helicopter Textron facility in Arlington, Texas, where Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, USSOCOM deputy commander in chief, emphasized the importance of this new weapon system.
"Having the CV-22 means having significant advantage over the maneuver capabilities of potential future adversaries," Schwartz said. "The CV-22 fills a long-standing USSOCOM and Air Force requirement to conduct long range insertion and extraction missions in one period of darkness."
The Air Force is acquiring 50 CV-22 Ospreys to replace its fleet of MH-53J Pave Low helicopters used to insert and extract special operations forces from hostile areas. Procurement of the first production CV-22s is scheduled to begin in 2001, with deliveries in 2003 and an initial operational capability expected in 2004. The first four production aircraft will go to the 58th Training Squadron at Kirtland AFB, N.M., where they will be used for CV-22 advanced aircrew training.
The CV-22 Osprey is a tiltrotor aircraft that combines the vertical takeoff, hover, and vertical landing qualities of a helicopter with the long-range, fuel efficiency and speed characteristics of a turboprop aircraft. It takes off vertically and, once airborne, the nacelles (engine and prop-rotor group) on each wing can rotate into a forward position. The Osprey can cruise at 230 knots, and has twice the speed, range and payload of the MH-53J.
According to program officials, it is also by far the most survivable aircraft in production in the Department of Defense rotary wing inventory.