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U.S. Marine Corps takes delivery of latest V-22 Osprey

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February 19, 2012

V-22 Osprey (Photo: Boeing)

V-22 Osprey (Photo: Boeing)

Image Gallery (15 images)

The tilt-rotor Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey program received a boost last week when the U.S. Marine Corps took delivery of the latest variant. The Osprey, which began development some 30 years ago, combines the helicopter's ability to take off and land vertically, with the speed of a regular aircraft. The recently delivered Block C variant includes an improved weather radar system, an upgraded crew and passenger aircon system, improvements to the cockpit Electronic Flight Instrument displays and upgrades to the Electronic Warfare Systems that allow the aircraft to better defend itself from sea, ground and airborne attacks.

The Osprey looks like a twin-engined fixed wing aircraft with a pair of over-sized props mounted on the ends of a stubby wing. Unlike the famous Harrier jump-jet, the Osprey gets its VTOL capabilities by tilting its two engines backwards so that they are aimed vertically, providing lift rather than horizontal thrust. Once underway, with the engines facing forward, it has greater efficiency and almost twice the speed of a helicopter as it is able to rely in its wings for lift, therefore not suffering from the retreating blade stall issues of a rotary wing aircraft when it tries to go fast.

V-22 Osprey at the Dubai Airshow (Photo: Bell Boeing)

If an engine fails, the aircraft has cross shafting that physically transmits shared power to both rotors from the remaining engine to allow a safe landing and recovery and its system redundancy is boosted by features such as triple-redundant fly-by-wire flight control systems.

The Osprey's unique characteristics offer distinct tactical and logistical advantages for the military, but the technology has much to offer in a civilian version, something that has been keeping the AgustaWestland engineers busy developing the AW609.

Civilian version of the tilt-rotor concept - AgustaWestland AW609

Civilian version of the tilt-rotor concept - AgustaWestland AW609

Although a pretty simple concept - having been proposed almost 82 years ago - a number of attempts made over the years without commercial success. Given the complexity it is not surprising that Boeing's tiltrotor program has had its share of setbacks, but the Osprey seems to have proven the proponents right. There are now more than 160 units flying worldwide and having amassed an impressive 130,000 flight hours, reliability is second to none amongst the Marine Corps helicopter fleet ... plus it's one of the cheapest to operate.

Cockpit upgrades include new weather radar system and improvements to Electronic Flight In...

Cockpit upgrades include new weather radar system and improvements to Electronic Flight Instrument displays (Photo: Jamie Darcy of NAVAIR)

Key features of the Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey
  • Designed for NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) environments
  • Full NVG (Night Vision) compatible cockpit
  • Fully shipboard compatible electronics (this is harder to do than with land based aircraft as there's lots of high power RF around the boats)
  • Fully marinized (i.e. material and coatings thwart corrosion)
  • Electrical de-icing capability on leading edges and rotors
  • Quieter than a turboprop in flight
  • Folding wing and blades enable stowage below deck of an aircraft carrier
  • Aircraft range allows over-the-horizon placement of naval assets out of harms ways and expands littoral warfare capability of the fleet
  • First "all composite structure" military aircraft

Source: Boeing

About the Author
Martin Hone Martin spent 17 years as road and track tester for Australian Motorcycle News and has raced motorcycles for over 40 years, picking up an Australian Championship in 1993 in the Unlimited Class Historic. An aircraft builder and experienced recreational pilot, he currently operates a test flight and maintenance facility, owns a Ducati 1000 and a Buell 1200 … and writes for Gizmag.   All articles by Martin Hone
18 Comments

God saved this aircraft, for what we'll have to find out, eh?

TogetherinParis
19th February, 2012 @ 10:03 pm PST

Two V-22s flew over my house heading N-NE a few days ago. They have a very interesting sound. Very different that a helicopter or jet.

Marty Williams
20th February, 2012 @ 05:27 am PST

"combines the helicopter's ability to take off and land vertically, with the speed of a regular aircraft."

...and with the safety of neither.

Look damn cool though.

fosin
20th February, 2012 @ 07:44 am PST

This is a very good aircraft. I was just wondering if you could have swivelling jet engines, instead of prop engines. (I think this has been tried) Jets are more powerful, but for some reason, large props would appear to have greater lifting power, as in a helicopter. Is this a fact?

By the way, retreating blade stall is not really an issue with twin rotors on wing tips in the vertical position. The wings are also providing lift from forward speed.

windykites1
20th February, 2012 @ 08:10 am PST

Once all the mechanical issues are resolved, this will be the wave of the future. Surprised that the powers that be haven't come up with a gunship version of it yet.

VoiceofReason
20th February, 2012 @ 09:25 am PST

I'm guessing the reason why they don't use jets is so that passengers can get on and off and walk around it without getting burnt to a crisp. This is designed as a troop transport after all. A jet aimed directly at the ground may also start fires.

Will Sharp
20th February, 2012 @ 09:45 am PST

Jets high exhaust temps way to high to point at the ground. Even the Harrier jet with vectored exhaust couldn't be vertically landed on asphalt without melting ground damage

Lon LeVine
20th February, 2012 @ 11:11 am PST

The big advantage of the Osprey is range compared to a helicopter.

They are surprisingly small inside, though. More comparable to a Blackhawk than a Chinook.

Jon A.
20th February, 2012 @ 01:17 pm PST

Actually these are jets if you want to nit pick lol These are turbo props

The reason they dont uase pure jets is the redundancy . If one engine fails you are screwed ,

But on the turbo prop they use a cross shaft that connects Both engine together in case of a failure

nOv1c3
20th February, 2012 @ 02:32 pm PST

Actually, I'd love to see a comparison between this and a comparable sized gyrodyne. Without all the complex transmissions, it would be MUCH cheaper with fairly equal specs.

VoiceofReason
20th February, 2012 @ 08:02 pm PST

re; fosin

It had some teething problems but so did a lot of other safe aircraft. The msm reports have been slanderous.

...........................................................................................................................

re; vertical lift jets (windykites1, Will Sharp, Lon LeVine, nOv1c3

Jet engines don't provide a built in control system like helicopter rotors but you can use a compressed air bleed reaction control system like Harriers, and F-35Bs.

Heat of the engines is a problem V-22s start fires if they land in grass', Marine Corp doctrine calls for burning of the grass before landing ops. However heat can be dealt with after the craft has landed the jets could be rotated away from the ground, and water can be injected into exhaust duct which will add thrust as well as cool the gas flow, and on takeoff you can disconnect the hose after you achieve flight. You might be able to use cryogenic nitrogen as well but I am not sure it would be near as cost effective.

nOv1c3 nailed the problem with engine failure but depending on the role the risk can be mitigated with auto-firing ejections seats or JATO tubes.

............................................................................................................................

re; VoiceofReason

The gyrodyne is a lot slower the world record is held by the Kamov Ka-22 at 220mph (350 km/h)

The Eurocopter X3 tops out at 279.6 mph (450 km/h)

The V-22 Osprey tops out at 316 mph (509 km/h)

Slowburn
21st February, 2012 @ 04:37 am PST

re: Slowburn

DARPA was working on a version that would carry 1000 pounds up to 1000 miles at 400mph.

VoiceofReason
21st February, 2012 @ 05:55 am PST

I'm "fortunate" enough to witness a portion of the pilot training of this crap aircraft.

Two things always stand out:

It is much more difficult to take off and land from high altitude landing strips.

The ratio of cargo/passenger weight to horsepower truly sucks compared to ordinary prop-driven aircraft or helicopters. The inefficiencies of the design are ridiculous.

Eideard
21st February, 2012 @ 07:53 am PST

re; Eideard

The airframe is heavy do to its need to fold up to save deck space on carriers, and armor and other combat survival systems are heavy as well.

Slowburn
21st February, 2012 @ 10:48 am PST

Thanks to all who responded to my message. Regarding hot exhaust, why doesn't the Osprey deflect the exhaust forward for take-off and landing, so it doesn't burn the ground? Actually when the engines are rotated for forward flight, the exhaust would then point down, and maybe create some lift.

windykites1
21st February, 2012 @ 11:22 am PST

re; Eideard

The airframe is heavy do to its need to fold up to save deck space on carriers, and armor and other combat survival systems are heavy as well.

Slowburn
21st February, 2012 @ 11:54 am PST

re; windykites1

The efficiency is better the way it is. the only time that the thrust from the exhaust is useful is in hover mode.

Slowburn
21st February, 2012 @ 02:26 pm PST

The forces version is designed to carry 22+crew or a hmmv and don't doubt they already have a gunship version on the drawing board

Howard Miller
7th March, 2012 @ 10:11 am PST
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