The US Navy’s (USN’s) head of logistics in the Western Pacific says the service remains optimistic about the strategic benefits of the CMV-22 variant of the Bell-Boeing Osprey tiltrotor and has no plans to phase out the troubled type.

The tiltrotor, which is operated by three branches of the US military and Japan, was absent from this year’s Singapore air show in contrast to previous editions of the event due to a fleet-wide grounding.

A fatal crash of a US Air Force (USAF) CV-22 off the coast of Japan last December which killed eight service members saw the Pentagon pause flight operations for all three of its Osprey variants while the incident is investigated.

While the US Marine Corps is the largest Osprey customer, it is arguably the USN which has experienced the most significant disruption from the grounding.

The service is in the process of retiring its ageing Northrop Grumman C-2A Greyhound turboprops, used for carrier resupply missions, which it plans to replace with the Osprey.

That transition is nearly complete, with only a single squadron of 15 Greyhounds still in service.

CMV-22 Osprey option 1c US Navy

Source: US Navy

US Navy is replacing its C-2 Greyhound fleet with the Bell-Boeing CMV-22 Osprey for resupply missions at sea 

The CMV-22 naval variant of the Osprey is set to fully take over that role, providing greater range, a larger cargo bay and the increased flexibility of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability.

A total of 27 examples are currently in service from an eventual 44-strong-fleet, according to Cirium data, all of which are currently grounded.

While the USAF is undertaking what the service calls a “comprehensive review” of the Osprey’s position within its ranks, the navy remains committed to the tiltrotor.

“I think we’re keen to get it back on the flightdeck as soon as we can,” Rear Admiral Mark Melson, head of logistics in the Western Pacific, said at the Singapore air show on 20 February.

Melson, previously a flight officer on the Lockheed P-3 Orion and an amphibious assault ship commander, was unequivocal in his support for the Osprey.

“I operated with them on my ship, the USS Macon Island, for three years,” he says. “I have complete confidence in the airplane.”

Melson says the navy is working to understand the cause of the recent mishaps and fix whatever problems are to blame.

CMV-22 Osprey option 2 c US Navy

Source: US Navy

The US Navy plans to acquire a total fleet of 44 CMV-22 Ospreys

Senior aviation leaders in the USN in 2023 expressed strong support for the CMV-22 as a logistics platform, despite a troubled history of accidents.

The US military has logged repeated V-22 crashes in recent years, including fatal incidents in Norway, Australia and California involving US Marine Corps aircraft.

Melson touts the CMV-22 as a significant improvement over the Cold War-era Greyhound, not just for carrier resupply, but also the ability to offer logistics support to remote sites on land.

“The ability to take off and land vertically, not just on the carrier, but in austere locations, is a game changer,” the one-star admiral says.

“The amount that it can carry with respect to people and parts, it’s a very, very capable platform,” he adds.

Notably, the CMV-22 is able to carry an entire Pratt & Whitney F135 jet engine, which powers the navy’s Lockheed F-35 carrier-based stealth fighters.

The C-2A is not capable of transporting the powerplants, posing a significant limitation on USN repair capability at sea.

Significantly modified from the standard V-22 configuration, the naval variant of the Osprey boasts 50% greater fuel capacity and more range.