PARIS: USMC pushes to qualify V-22 on foreign ships

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The US Marine Corps is making a strong push to qualify the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey to operate from vessels from around the world - and potentially secure additional sales for the tiltrotor aircraft.

Col Gregory Masiello, the Naval Air Systems Command programme manager for the joint V-22 programme, says that the V-22 recently completed a US Navy military utility evaluation on board the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman.

Additionally, the MV-22 landed on two different types of Japanese "helicopter-carrying" destroyers on 14 June. The Japanese made sure the aircraft was able to fit onto the ships' elevators and into the hangar deck.

Additionally, an agreement has been reached between the US government and France to qualify the aircraft to operate from a French Mistral-class amphibious assault ship. A similar agreement has been discussed with Italy and other allied nations.

Part of the effort is to entice allies to buy the aircraft. The USMC has options for 22 additional aircraft as part of a second multi-year production deal recently signed with Bell Boeing for 99 V-22s over five years. The average price is $70 million. Those options could be used to either fill further USMC orders or a potential USN order for a replacement carrier onboard delivery aircraft. Foreign sales could also be used to fill those options.

Discussions are ongoing with Israel and other potential customers, says Masiello, who sees the potential for as many as 100 more aircraft.


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