A Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey may soon be equipped with a gun within the cabin that can fire on targets at all angles relative to the aircraft's position.
US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has disclosed that it is seeking a vendor to provide an "interim all-quadrant defensive weapon system" for its CV-22 tiltrotors. SOCOM would require flight testing to begin within 120 days of a contract award, according to a solicitation document posted on 14 September.
The notice may be a signal that SOCOM believes it needs greater self-protection on the CV-22 than currently available on the aircraft. As an interim measure, the US Marine Corps has installed a .50-calibre gun on the tail ramp of its MV-22 fleet, which is now making its combat debut in Iraq.
"Anything that the services want to pursue to get them to a weapon system that works for their needs we want to support," says Naval Air Systems Command.
But proposals for an all-quadrant gun have been shelved for several years due to a lack of funds. The V-22 programme office is seeking to obtain $82 million in supplemental defence spending for fiscal year 2008 to launch development of such a weapon, but the SOCOM initiative would move even faster.
Previous studies on installing an internal gun have focused on the aircraft's nose, but SOCOM's solicitation would require placing the weapon inside the cabin. The most obvious location would be in the so-called "hell-hole" in the cabin floor.
Both the USMC and SOCOM are considering a range of weapon types, from a 7.62mm minigun to a .50-calibre machine gun to a grenade launcher.