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During the thirty years since the V-22 Osprey first flew, the tiltrotor aircraft, built by Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, and Boeing, has fundamentally changed how the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force operate in combat and support humanitarian operations. So far, more than 375 V-22 aircraft have accumulated more than 450,000 flight hours across a spectrum of missions. The aircraft has proven to be so versatile that the U.S. Navy now has plans to begin leveraging the Osprey’s unique capabilities by using a new V-22 variant to deliver personnel and cargo to its aircraft carriers.
The V-22 has deployed to operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait, and has been used to carry out humanitarian operations, including earthquake relief in Haiti and Japan and hurricane response in the United States. Military leaders continue to find new uses for the V-22. The various missions it has performed to date include airborne command and control, airborne fleet logistics, combat search and rescue and special operations support, among others.
The V-22 Osprey’s unique tiltrotor design means the aircraft takes off and lands like a helicopter, but it flies as a propeller-driven aircraft. These characteristics offer the tactical flexibility to deploy with a smaller logistical footprint and without a runway to access areas that are unreachable with any other aircraft. At twice the speed of a helicopter (493 km/h), the Osprey can carry 24 combat troops, or up to 20,000 pounds (9,072 kg) of internal cargo or 15,000 pounds (6,084 kg) of external cargo. Its cargo bay can accommodate nine litters with medical personnel and equipment.
Major production locations are Philadelphia and Amarillo, with Rolls-Royce producing the aircraft’s two AE1107C engines in its Indianapolis facility. The V-22 industry team is not only producing new aircraft, but it is also currently working with the Marine Corps to reduce the number of aircraft configurations and simplify designs for readiness improvements for the active V-22 inventory.
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