Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC
Bell Boeing is stepping up its efforts to market the V-22 tiltrotor in the UK to meet two emerging requirements - the Future Amphibious Support Helicopter (FASH) and the Future Organic Airborne Early Warning (FOAEW) aircraft.
The team has responded to a request for information on the V-22's ability to meet the FASH requirement, which is to replace Westland Sea Kings operated by the Royal Navy on behalf of the Royal Marines.
Bell Boeing, meanwhile, has supplied information on the V-22 to one of two UK companies awarded contracts in January to study the FOAEW requirement to replace the Royal Navy's carrier-based AEW Sea Kings.
The FASH 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. A 740km-range special-forces insertion mission has also been outlined by the UK. Bell Boeing says these requirements are close to those for the US Marine Corps' MV-22.
The FOAEW operational requirement is to maintain 4h on station, 370km ahead of the fleet, at an altitude of 20,000-25,000ft (6,100-7,600m). Bell Boeing is looking at two options: mounting the AEW Sea King's Searchwater X-band radar in the V-22, and integrating an S-band phased-array radar with the tiltrotor's airframe.
The FASH staff requirement is expected to be released at the end of 1999, leading to a contract award by early 2004 and initial deliveries in 2006. The request for information was also issued to Boeing, Eurocopter and Sikorsky, but Bell Boeing expects the main competition for the V-22 to be the GKN Westland/Agusta EH101.
The FOAEW requirement is for the longer term, with a staff target expected in 2001, leading to a request for information by 2002. The US team expects the EH101 to again be the main rival.
The UK's FASH and FOAEW programmes are the first defined international requirements to emerge for which the V-22 can be offered, says Bell Boeing.
Production has just begun of 360 MV-22 assault transports for the Marine Corps, with deliveries beginning next year. A further 50 long-range special operations CV-22s will be built for the US Air Force, and the US Navy has a requirement for 48 combat-rescue HV-22s which as yet is unfunded.
Bell Boeing believes domestic production will exceed this number, and is pursuing an emerging US Air Force requirement for a long-range combat rescue aircraft to replace Sikorsky HH-60s.
Source: Flight International