I had a once in my lifetime opportunity to fly in an MV-22 at the Singapore Airshow on Wednesday, February 12. Bell Boeing obviously had the Osprey at this show to further interest among foreign governments. One of the end slides in the briefing concluded with ‘Ready for Export!’
Only a few of the cranial helmets we were required to wear had the right input cable to be hooked into the intercom, and I was fortunate enough to get one of them. So I could hear the pilot talking to a foreign pilot, presumably from an interested military service, sitting in the jump seat.
Your intrepid reporter before take off.
V-22 roles: amphibious assault, sustained land operations, self-deployment, long-range special operations, contingency operations, evacuations and maritime special operations, fleet logistics support, special warfare and combat search and rescue. Expanding, less typical capabilities include cargo and logistics work, firebucket operations and aerial refueling of other aircraft.
This shot shows the transport seating of the MV-22, 24 combat-loaded Marines and a crew chief. As we were waiting for takeoff, I thought ‘If I were a Marine, I would fall asleep right now.’ Sure enough: the Marine at the extreme left of this photo fell asleep early in the flight.
Regarding pilot training, the squadron executive officer told us that, initially, rotorcraft, fixed-wing and STOVL pilots were all tried for fitness on the V-22. No specific experience was determined to be better for V-22 pilots. Now, new pilots can train directly on the V-22 after their general flight training.
The Crew Chief’s job honestly looked fun, though this shot doesn’t show it.
Bell Boeing also promoted the V-22 for Medevac roles. It is uniquely suited for this job since it can hover and hoist or land in unimproved areas like a helicopter, but then convert to much faster airplane mode to preserve the “Golden Hour,” a proverbial target for treatment for casualties inside which best results are obtained.
In a similar way, V-22s can be very effective in humanitarian relief. The Flying Tigers of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing deployed to the Philippines in October 2010 after the devastating typhoon to assist in hard-to-reach areas, delivering critical food and water and evacuating casualties.
Shot out the side window of the left nacelle. I was surprised at how smooth all of the transitions in flight were, first from rolling takeoff with the nacelles at about 60 degrees through acceleration to full airplane mode. The wing becomes fully effective in handling lift at between 100 and 120 knots. The transition back to helicopter mode was also generally smooth unless the pilot was performing combat maneuvers.
Bell Boeing and the Marines who conducted our demonstration flight consistently described it as being like a roller coaster ride and the description was apt. There are no other times in normal human experience where you will feel 3Gs. In fact, the commanding officer of the Flying Tigers said, except for the journalists who had been in strike aircraft before, this was probably the highest performance flight any of us will experience. We were told we would reach nearly full speed of 250 knots.
View out the back. The rear hatch was left open the entire flight and crewman casually perched on the edge for most of the time (he was wearing a safety harness like a tether). This provided nice views of the South China Sea and shipping therein and also helped keep us oriented.
Troops can parachute out the back or fast rope from there or one of the two belly hatches.
Bell Boeing and the USMC have begun to use the MV-22 in a VIP transport role, including with the President’s office and staff. The MV-22 has never served as Marine One (it’s call–sign when the President is aboard, like the more well-known Air Force One), but Bell Boeing would like to see it chosen for that job.
The unrefueled endurance of the V-22 is about 5 hours. Internally carried auxiliary fuel tanks can be increase endurance. And, because it can be refueled in flight, its range is unlimited when tanker support is available.
More information on the V-22:
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V-22 Osprey | NAVAIR