‘Handful’ of Foreign Countries Eyeing V-22 Purchases, Program Manager Says
A V-22 Osprey program manager has given an optimistic view of the export chances for the tilt-rotor, claiming that the first foreign contract could be signed in 2013 and that customers “are vying for who will be first.”
Speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow, V-22 joint program manager Col. Greg Masiello said he expected initial purchases to amount to 10 to 12 aircraft each from a “handful” of countries.
Japan and Israel are among the countries reportedly eyeing the tilt-rotor built by Boeing and Bell. Production levels for U.S. orders will peak in 2013 at 41 aircraft before descending to about 21 a year, said Richard Linhart, vice president, military business development at Bell. Three to four aircraft are being delivered a month, said Masiello.
Masiello said U.S. foreign military sales prospects for the V-22 covered assault, special operataions and search-and-rescue missions, adding that the aircraft could carry more cargo than a C2 aircraft.
The aircraft set about proving its medevac credentials on June 6 with a 12,000 nautical mile flight to practice the collection of a stretcher from the ballistic-missile submarine Wyoming.
Of a total planned order of 360 aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps, 50 for Special Operations Command and 48 for the Navy, 178 were now flying, said Masiello, and have built up 150,000 flying hours.
The V-22 is due to start replacing older CH-46 helicopters next year in the role of support to the White House, flying staff and supplies. Linhart said 13 V-22s would be used for the job.
Masiello said the aircraft could also be picked to fly the U.S. president if and when the competition for a new presidential helicopter is launched.
“In theater it has been the choice of VIPs and [then-Sen.] Barack Obama flew on it. Is there an opportunity? I believe so,” he said.