With the planned delivery of the first Block 10 aircraft to Air
Force Special Operations Command this week and the delivery of the
first Block B version of the V-22 Osprey to the U.S. Marine Corps
last month, the Bell Boeing V-22 is in Full Rate Production. Both
the Block B and Block 10 aircraft have software upgrades,
reliability and maintainability improvements over existing V-22
Currently there are some 50 V-22 aircraft on flight status
throughout the country. They are in service at NAS Patuxent River,
Maryland, MCAS New River, North Carolina, Edwards AFB, California
as well as at the Bell Boeing V-22 manufacturing center in
The V-22 program was approved for full rate production (FRP) in
September 2005, after the operational evaluation verified that the
Osprey had achieved all the "key performance parameters" identified
by the Marine Corps as essential to its mission. Recommendations
from that OPEVAL validated the program's roadmap for follow-on test
and evaluation, to add capabilities as the aircraft progresses
toward its deployment date.
With FRP, the U.S. Government has authorized Bell and Boeing to
increase current low-rate production up to 48 aircraft per year.
The FRP decision by the Defense Acquisition Board followed the
successful completion of extensive Operational Evaluation testing,
conducted last summer by the USMC.
Secretary of the Navy Dr. Donald C. Winter logged his first
flight hour aboard an MV-22 Osprey at MCAS New River, (Jan. 9
2006). Winter made the flight with VMX-22, the Marine Corps
squadron that conducted the successful operational evaluation of
the tiltrotor aircraft last summer. VMX-22 shares a flight line
with VMMT-204, the training squadron that is preparing Marine
aviators for the start of Osprey combat operations in late
"This aircraft proves that transformation is more than just a
buzzword," Winter said. "The combination of range, speed and
operational flexibility the Osprey provides is going to change all
the rules for how our Marines engage the enemy. As central as these
capabilities are to our Sea Strike concept of future operations, I
wanted to come see it for myself."
"With twice the speed, three to five times the range, and the
ability to carry twice as many Marines, the Osprey will permit
joint force commanders to execute large Marine Air Ground Task
Force operations in a single period of darkness," said Col. Bill
Taylor, V-22 joint program manager.
Under the current program of record, the Marine Corps will
purchase 360 MV-22s for missions including amphibious assault,
ship-to-objective maneuvers and sustained operations ashore. The
Navy is also slated to get 48 MV-22s, which could be used for fleet
logistic support and search and rescue.
The Air Force Special Operations Command will acquire 50 CV-22
variants, with enhanced capabilities tailored for their unique
mission requirements. The CV-22 will reach initial operational
capability in 2009, while the Marines' variant will be ready to
deploy in late 2007. The first operational Marine Osprey squadron,
VMM-263, will stand up at New River in March, with many of its
pilots going through training now at VMMT-204.