The US Marine Corps desperately wants the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey to secure further export orders to mitigate a production slowdown expected between 2017 and 2020.
Although the USMC is preparing to place its third multi-year order for the Osprey in 2017, there are relatively few aircraft still to be produced for the marines and US Air Force from a combined 379-unit order before the next variant appears towards the end of the decade.
The HV-22s to be acquired by the US Navy as a replacement for its Grumman C-2A Greyhound fleet for the carrier onboard delivery mission will not start being procured until the 2018 fiscal year for delivery in 2020 says V-22 joint programme manager Col Dan Robinson.
The navy's requirement is for 48 examples of a slightly modified, longer-range version which it hopes will attain initial operational capability in fiscal 2021. That keeps production at a minimum level through about 2019 or 2020 as the final marine corps MV-22s and air force CV-22s are delivered.
If more near-term customers - either the US or its allies - come on board, the unit price could fall by 10%, believes the navy.
“I’d welcome any additional customers, whether domestic or international to this,” Robinson said, speaking at a Dubai air show briefing, where the US military had a pair of MV-22s on the static display.
Robinson sees the potential for several new customers to come on board by June 2016, when negotiations must start to firm to avoid the production slowdown.
“There are several countries that have requested briefings and others who’ve asked for pricing and availability,” he says. “There’s probably more that have expressed interested in V-22, but three or four are well beyond that.”