Bell Boeing will use Farnborough as a platform to launch a drive for international sales of the V-22 military tiltrotor, the joint venture said at a packed press conference yesterday.

Industry sources make it clear that there are four near-term candidates to take the V-22 – the UK, Japan, Israel and Australia – although Mike Tkach, Boeing vice-president and general manager for rotorcraft, declines to name potential customers.

What he does confirm is that a key focus for the programme team during the next 12 months will be to reduce the unit cost of the aircraft.

Bell Boeing MV-22 in flight W445

For the US Marine Corps (USMC) the target cost per aircraft is $58 million by fiscal year 2010. Bell Boeing says it is roughly halfway toward meeting that target, having taken the cost from $78 million to $69 million to date.

Bell chief executive Mike Redenbaugh says international customers could be accommodated in the production schedule because the 30-month lead time for production of each aircraft fits well within the timescales needed for an international procurement.

Gen John Castellaw, deputy commandant of aviation, says investigations continue into the engine issue which led to a diversion via Iceland for one of the MV-22s en route to Farnborough. The Block A aircraft being displayed here do not feature the anti-icing capabilities of the upgraded Block B MV-22s.

Bell Boeing delivered 19 Ospreys in 2005 and is aiming to surpass a delivery target of 16 aircraft this year. The programme currently calls for 360 MV-22s for the USMC, 48 MV-22s for the US Navy and a further 50 CV-22 variants for the US Air Force Special Operations Command.

Source: Flight Daily News