Bell Boeing says it has reached another milestone in its development programme for the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft which is destined for the US military market.

The third of four Ospreys built to production standards is now undergoing testing to validate its Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR), navigational and other mission systems.

Tests will be carried out at the Patuxent River Naval Air Warfare Test Centre in Maryland by the V-22 Integrated Test Team.

Another V-22 is being used as a testbed for the blade-fold/wing-stow system. Bell's Yale Cason says early signs are positive: "These initial tests were accomplished without a hitch. We fully expect the remainder of our work to be completed the same way - perfectly."

The programme requirements for the V-22 include 425 MV-22Bs for the US Marine Corps for combat assault and assault support. US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has a need for 50 CV-22Bs for long-range special operations while the US Navy has earmarked 48 HV-22Bs for combat SAR, special warfare and logistics support.

Bell Boeing was awarded a Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract in June 1996, and manufacture of the first production MV-22B began in May this year.

The first of these LRIP craft is scheduled to be delivered in May 1999 with full-rate production slated for December 1999.

Source: Flight Daily News