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Rolls-Royce wins $287m contract for V-22 engine maintenance

Rolls-Royce on 25 November scored a two-year contract worth up to $287 million for engine maintenance on US Marine Corps and Air Force Bell Boeing V-22 Ospreys.

The deal lowers support cost for the AE1107C engines by a fleet-wide average of 30% when compared to the five-year MissionCare contract for the services that ran from 2009 to 2014. There are about 750 of the engines in service with the Marine Corps and Air Force, all of which were supplied by manufacturer Rolls-Royce.

MissionCare is a customized set of scalable packages made available to the military based on their maintenance and performance needs, says Tom Hartmann, senior vice-president of customer business at Rolls Royce. “This new contract demonstrates confidence from V-22 operators that Rolls-Royce will continue to provide outstanding service and capability to the V-22 fleets. Operators know they can count on Rolls-Royce to provide the power and support they need to succeed in their missions – while also focusing on increased affordability.”

“It allows us to continually improve the engine including power and time on wing,” Hartmann tells reporters on 25 November.

Rolls Royce has invested $90 million in the AE 1107C improvements since 2009, which have reduced maintenance cost per flight hour by 34%. It has also boosted the engine’s power by 17% and tripled time-on-wing since the US government’s initial purchase. Flight tests have validated that a Block 3 turbine upgrade, which are being offered through the MissionCare work for the AE1107C, can allow an Osprey to hover at 6,000ft at 35˚C (95˚F). In ground testing the engine has produced more than 8,800shp.

The AE 1107C engine shares a common core with a family of engines, which totals more than 62 million flight hours of service and includes nearly 6,000 total engines in military and commercial service. In turboprop form the engine powers the Lockheed Martin C-130J and configured as turbofan powers the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Global Hawk.

Many of the improvements that went into the AE1107C were initially made to commercial versions of the engine and transitioned to military use, Hartmann said. Likewise, improvements made to the engine in the V-22 will be “spread across all the engine models” to benefit the C-130 and Global Hawk as well, he says.

The new two-year deal seems to be the final answer to a September solicitation by US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) seeking information on potential drop-in replacement engines to power all variants of the V-22.

A NAVAIR spokesman tells Flightglobal that no decision has been made on whether to pursue the RFI.

"The MissionCare contract and the previously announced Request for Information (RFI) are two separate actions," says Billy Ray Brown, a spokesman for the V-22 program office at NAVAIR. "Since the RFI is still open and information is under review and evaluation, the program office has not made any decisions on that action."

The RFI calls for data on engines with a power rating of no less than 6,100shp (4,550kW) at 15,000rpm. It should operate at up to 25,000ft at up to 54˚C and fit into the aircraft’s existing nacelles.

Hartmann said R-R saw the RFI as “an opportunity to tell our story and we did so with the AE1107C in response”, he says.

“From our standpoint, now that we have another MissionCare contract under our belt, we consider the RFI closed for business.”

[UPDATE: Article was updated to include comments from Naval Air Systems Command.

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