Paul Derby

As Bell Boeing's V-22 Osprey tiltrotor gears up for the battle to meet the UK's Future Amphibious Support Helicopter (FASH) requirement, US military "big guns" were out in force yesterday to give the V-22 their undivided support.

A briefing given by Brig Gen Ed Langston of the US Marine Corps, US Air Force Maj Gen Tome Walters and Rear Adm Don Newsome of Naval Air Systems Command, carried one clear message - they are delighted with the way the development programme is going.

The briefing coincided with news that the first production V-22 fuselage has been flown by Boeing C-17 transport from Philadelphia to the Bell assembly plant in Arlington, Texas.

Walters says the 50 long range, special operations CV-22s the USAF is taking will mark a major step forward for the Air Force.

He highlights the sophisticated electronic countermeasures suite and the aircraft's speed and range characteristics as being major pluses.

The Marine Corps will receive its first MV-22 assault transport version next year and Langston says: "We're sending our pilots through the pipeline, and crew members through school. We're committed to this thing."

The V-22 is likely to go head-to-head against the GKN Westland/Agusta EH101 helicopter when the UK moves forward with the FASH programme.

The operational requirement is to carry 24 troops or a 6,800kg (15,000lb) payload 90km (50nm) to support an over-the-horizon assault from a ship.

Source: Flight Daily News