Bell Boeing will soon deliver the first of two Block B MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to US Marine Corps operational testers, and the first Block 10 CV-22 to the US Air Force, evidence of the accelerating pace of the once-troubled programme.

With the first improved-maintainability Block B aircraft already in development testing at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, deliveries to the first operational squadron are to begin in April-May, says V-22 programme manager Col Bill Taylor.

Initial operational capability of the MV-22B is now expected earlier than planned, in May 2007, followed in 2009 by the CV-22 in Block 10 configuration.

Bell Boeing has delivered 29 operational Block A aircraft, 20 of which will be retained for training and testing, while nine will be upgraded to Block B configuration, says Taylor. Development of the enhanced-capability Block C MV-22 will begin this year, with deliveries to start in 2012, followed later by the Block 20 CV-22. The USMC plans to acquire 360 MV-22s and the USAF 20 CV-22s.

Source: Flight International