Navy Order Seen Boosting Foreign Osprey Sales

Navy Order Seen Boosting Foreign Osprey Sales

The MV-22 Osprey won’t be at the Paris Air Show for potential buyers to kick the tires, but that might not be necessary after a $6.5 billion vote of confidence by the U.S. government in the tilt-rotor aircraft.

“We’re not bringing one” to Paris, a Marine Corps spokesman said of the Osprey, though Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle, the deputy commandant for aviation, and Col. Greg Masiello, program manager for the Osprey, will be on hand at Le Bourget airfield outside Paris to talk up the aircraft’s capabilities.

Naval Air Systems Command on June 12 awarded a joint venture of Textron Inc.’s Bell Helicopter and Boeing Co. a $6.5 billion contract for 99 Ospreys – 92 for the Marines and seven for the Air Force. The agreement was expected to intensify interest by foreign buyers who would be key to keeping the production line open past the current phase out date in 2018.

The MV-22, a frequent performer at air shows worldwide in the past, has been barred along with all other U.S. military aircraft from participating in air shows to save money as the military struggles to meet the automatic budget cuts ordered up by the congressional process called sequester.

A Bell-Boeing team will also attend the Paris event to back up Schmidle and Masiello when they brief potential buyers on June 17, according to William Schroeder, a Bell spokesman.

The Marines and the manufacturers say the Osprey’s performance in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it has logged more than 180,000 flight hours, proves its reliability. The aircraft takes off and lands like a helicopter, yet flies like a fixed-wing plane, giving it longer range and greater speed.

During development of the Osprey, more than 30 Marines and civilian contractors were killed in crashes. Some lawmakers and Defense Department officials sought unsuccessfully to cancel the program.

In April, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced in Tel Aviv the first foreign sale of the Osprey for the Israeli special forces. The number of Ospreys Israel would receive was not announced but it was believed to be at least five for $70 million apiece, which would likely come out of the more than $3 billion in military assistance the U.S. gives Israel annually.

The Osprey deal culminated a long courtship of Israel by the Marine Corps and Bell-Boeing. Going back to early 2011, Israeli air force pilots were brought to the Marine air base in New River, N.C., to train on simulators and take test flights at the controls of the aircraft, according to Marine Capt. Richard Ulsh, a Marine spokesman.

“No other (foreign) militaries have done that” or been afforded the opportunity, he said.

Indeed, in a visit to the U.S., Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on June 14 made his first flight in an Osprey as part of a demonstration before landing at the Pentagon to meet with Hagel.

The sale to Israel has piqued additional interest in the V-22s among other nations, officials said. “I can tell you that several countries are very, very interested” in the Osprey, Schroeder, the Bell spokesman, said at the time, without naming them.

The Marines and Bell-Boeing say several other countries have shown interest in the Osprey, three of which have reportedly exchanged letters with the Pentagon on a possible purchase.

The countries have not been named, but Middle East news reports have said that the United Arab Emirates has been haggling for more than a year with Bell over a purchase price. Other countries that have received extended briefings on the aircraft include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Italy, Brazil, Colombia, Singapore and Australia.

The Marines and Bell have aggressively marketed the Osprey at air shows around the world. Last year, the Osprey performed at the Farnborough air show outside London, and at similar air shows in Singapore and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

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I recently read something about Japan sending three of their warships including the JS Hyuga (a “helicopter destroyer” with a carrier-like flat top flight deck over a large hangar deck) to participate in “Dawn Blitz 2013″ joint multi-national amphibious exercise this month along the coast of California. USMC is supposed to demonstrate MV-22 operations on/off Hyuga.

It remains to be seen if Japan is interested in buying any of those.

Increasingly aggressive PLAN operations around the Senkaku islands that Japan annexed in 1895 seems to be stirring nationalist emotions among some in Japan, and with it some interest in expanding their defense capabilities. Regardless the “Pacific Pivot”, US Navy and Marines presence in the western Pacific is a fraction of what it was 25 years ago, and our allies there are well aware of that, especially in the growing shadow of China’s rise.

The Hyuga is a destroyer in name only. It’s a helicopter carrier, but technically Japan has a ban on carriers, so it had nominal surface capability added and renamed it a helicopter destroyer. And they’ve got bigger Helicopter Destroyers in the works.

19ktons full, pretty small compared to present-day Marine amphibs. Probably close in mass to former Iwo Jima class LPH’s though, though it carries a far smaller complement.

Bear in mind that a Burke is ~11 ktons as well.

The Hyuga seems a little overkill for a limited ASW mission, and one that depends on its three helicopters. The 22DDH might be interesting, but we’ll see.

Could a JSF-B could even STO from a Hyuga…?

By looking at pics from testing on the Wasp, and how much room it takes, along with the size of the Hyuga, I’d say it could. It would use a good chunk of the flight deck, but possible.

We got six V-22s in Spain now, so it’s not too much trouble to fly one to Paris, so all our Generals can visit Paris at government expense. Hopefully, at least two of the six will be flight ready, which is about average.

Most of ours were broke down on ship too. Here is photo of another day where they shut down flight ops and we spent all day topside trying to get some fixed, the hangar deck is too small to work on them.

It’ll be just great for the wrench turners, having to handle maintenance and repair on the world’s most technically complex rotorcraft, working up top in the open with no shelter, when the WX deteriorates and the wind really picks up and the wet deck starts to pitch and roll hard. We can be sure that will work out for the best.

perhaps the America class is a great decision after all with its hanger and repair facilities

What year was this? Early on in Osprey ops or later on? Just curious…

Here, special Bell Textron tents for the Osprey. Twenty million apiece to stay on the deck up to sea-state three.

If only the French would allow NATO headquarters to move to Paris… :)

My big concern from looking at the flight deck is space. I’m not sure how much room the Hyugas have below decks for F-35’s, but if their standard complement is three helicopters I’m not inspired.

Can’t understand the fascination for this aircraft. Its technology, engineering and philosophy equals wrong time, wrong money, and wasted effort.

What you are seeing is a full court press.… A coordinated Boeing/USMC push to “claim the battlefield” before the fight. They’ll probably prevail the way everyone is programmed.…

Of course we Navy carrier airwing bubbas, who have been doing this since the 1930’s ‚the battle of midway, etc., don’t want anything to do with V-22 on a CVN for a lot of reasons, well beyond just those mitigated and “shined-away” above.

I would recommend the author and all others who haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid to open your aperature and consider other, fixed wing, long range possibilities, that could actually overhead-tank a thirst Hornet or Lightening “Trick or Treat” on the ball, blue-water. Aircraft that have twice the range as those frontrunners you mention and actually can deliver “stuff” to a CVN operating blue-water in sync with cyclic or flex deck ops.


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