The US Navy is seeking to gain support for a demonstration of the Thales Cerberus maritime surveillance radar for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, potentially expanding the role of the US Marine Corps and US Air Force tiltrotor programme beyond the transport mission.

The so-called totally organic sensor system (TOSS) would demonstrate that the Westland Sea King 7's Cerberus airborne surveillance and control sensor could be modularised and installed on a wide range of navy and USMC aircraft, starting with the V-22.

The UK Royal Navy would be a joint participant in the TOSS joint concept technology demonstration, if the project is approved.

The US Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command is still searching for a second service to sponsor the project to make the project eligible for a "joint" funding programme, says Ken Moritz, a business development director for Bell Boeing.

Moving forward with the programme would mark a re-awakening of the USN's active interest in the V-22 programme. A few years ago, the navy officially dropped a long-term strategy to replace its Grumman C-2 carrier on-board delivery fleet with a version of the tiltrotor called the HV-22.

With the USMC reluctant to divert any aircraft in its fleet for maritime surveillance, the project is a potential opportunity to drive additional sales of the V-22 for the maritime surveillance role, Moritz says. The USN is interested in using Cerberus-equipped V-22s for the expeditionary strike group mission.

The TOSS project also seeks to develop a modular kit for several additional types of US military aircraft.

So far, the Cerberus radar is not a part of the upgrade roadmap for the V-22. The Block B model, which adds a ramp gun, hoist, refuelling probe and reliability improvements, has been finalised.

The Block C configuration remains in the definition stage, with proposals to add an internal gun embedded in the fuselage, a new radar and an improved environmental control system.

The navy also has identified a requirement for a Block D upgrade programme, focusing initially on integrating the assault directed infrared countermeasures suite.

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