Bell Boeing has rolled out the US Air Force's first production representative special operations CV-22B tiltrotor. Operational evaluation (Opeval) of the MV-22B transport version has been completed, and the US Marine Corps claims that the tiltrotor meets or exceeds all key performance parameters (KPP).


The extensively modified V-22 is one of four tiltrotors produced for the completed engineering manufacturing and development (EMD) phase. The CV-22, along with a second aircraft, is set for delivery to the USAF's Edwards AFB test facility on 18 September for the start of an 18-month flight test programme.

"The remanufactured aircraft is the closest we can make an EMD tiltrotor to a production CV-22 - it's got a complete list of items with everything on it," says John Buyers, Bell V-22 programme director. An earlier EMD aircraft fitted with a radar nose housing and additional tanks is undergoing handling tests. "We've not seen any differences from the MV-22," says Buyers.

Eight additional wing fuel cells and two auxiliary sponson tanks have been added to the CV-22, extending the tiltrotor's radius of action to 925km (500nm). As well as carrying the Raytheon APQ-186 terrain following/avoidance radar, the CV-22 is only the second test aircraft to be equipped with the new ITT ALQ-211 electronic warfare suite. It also has new EFW liquid crystal displays in place of the cathode ray tube displays.

Development and qualification of the radar occupies most of the CV-22's test programme. The minimum altitude for the radar has been reduced from 300ft (90m) to 200ft, and the Air Force Special Operations Command wants to lower this eventually to 100ft.

The USMC, meanwhile, claims the MV-22 met or surpassed all 12 KPPs during the Opeval. A final report is due to be released within the next 60 days. Several improvements have already been suggested, including a cabin climatic control system, improved reliability and a self-defence weapon.

Bell Boeing is evaluating proposals to fit the MV-22 with a chin-mounted 0.5in gun or weapon with an equivalent recoil load. The company has also been testing reliability improvements to the wing stow system.

"We think we've got the bugs out of the system," says Buyers.

Source: Flight International