The US Air Force took delivery earlier this week of its first combat-configured CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor from Bell/Boeing in a ceremony at the Bell Helicopter manufacturing facility in Amarillo, Texas.

The aircraft handed over was the first full USAF special operations Block B10 configuration and is due to enter active service in 2009. Earlier versions of the V-22 are still in use in the test programme.

Receiving the aircraft was Lt Col Jim Cardoso, commanding officer of the 71st Special Operations Squadron, which will use the Osprey for crew training at its Kirtland AFB in New Mexico.

The USAF has ordered 50 CV-22s, which will be used for long-range infiltration missions for special forces personnel. 
Maj Gen Donald Wurster, vice commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command says the aircraft represents "the single most significant transformation of Air Force special operations since the introduction of the helicopter". "Nearly every mission we have faced in the last 20 years could have been done better and faster with the V-22," he says.

The CV-22 has around 85% commonality with the Maritime version MV-22 Osprey that the US Marine Corps will use from 2007. Differences include a multi mode radar with terrain following/terrain avoidance modes allowing nighttime low flying exit missions in unknown territories. The CV-22 also has additional internal fuel capacity and enhanced navigation systems

The US Department of Defense approved full rate production of the Osprey in September last year following the completion of mission test flights for the MV-22. The CV-22 will undergo additional test flights this year.

The photo below shows the Block B/10 CV-22 converting between forward and helicopter modes during a flight at the Amarillo Bell Helicopter facility.

Bell Boeing CV-22 Osprey W445
© Bell Helicopter

Source: Flight International