Bell Boeing has submitted an unsolicited offer to the US Department of Defense (DoD) proposing to raise the rate of production for the V-22 Osprey. The incentive for the DoD is an estimated $9 billion saving over the project's life. A DoD is response is likely in the first quarter of 1997. Bell Boeing is now building four "production-representative" aircraft. Aircraft 7, the first under the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) programme, will fly by the end of 1996. Flight testing of the Aircraft 3 continues at the Naval Air Centre at Patuxtent River. Nearly 1,100h have been flown in the development programme. Aircraft 2 is now in "flyable storage" following its successful demonstrations at the 1995 Paris air show.

The Osprey is powered by two 4,600kW Allison T406 turboshafts, which are cross-connected to keep both prop-rotors turning if one engine fails. The all-composite V-22 has folding rotors and the wing slews for shipboard operations. The aircraft, equipped for in-flight refuelling and all-weather low-level navigation, will be able to carry 24 fully equipped troops, 4,550kg internal cargo, or a 7,300kg external load.

The V-22 was designed from its inception to fit the needs of four US military services. Today the USMC, Special Operations Forces (SOF), the USAF and the USN are officially part of the development and production programme. The Marine requirement is for 425 aircraft, USAF 50 and the USN 48 for search and rescue.

Source: Flight International