The U.S. Navy is gearing up for the arrival of the first of its 44 V-22 Ospreys in 2020. The V-22 was selected last year as the replacement for the C-2A Greyhound as the carrier onboard delivery aircraft, doing the COD logistics mission of carrying cargo, mail and passengers between aircraft carriers and beach detachments ashore.
The aircraft, dubbed Sea V-22 by the Navy, will be a slightly modified version featuring an increased fuel load for extended autonomy, giving it a range of 1,150nm without refuelling. It will also be equipped for beyond-line-of-sight HF communications, as well as a public address system for crew annoucements to passengers.
The Navy has been conducting “proof of concept” trials using U.S. Marine Corps MV-22Bs to explore the employment of the Osprey tiltrotor on an aircraft carrier. Though no major changes in the logistics mission have been announced to date, the V-22 clearly offers considerable potential, as shown by Bell Boeing’s “Optimized Carrier Onboard Delivery” concept.
The Sea V-22 will be able to land on multiple platforms, eliminating the current need for helicopters to distribute cargo to other ships in the battle group. The V-22 has even demonstrated the capability for winch/hoist operations onto submarines. The real question is whether the Navy will use the V-22 for tactical transport or assault missions, as the Marines and the USAF do.
Bell Boeing has been promoting its optimized logistics concept to other naval forces. The company believes that the V-22 could offer a good solution for smaller fleets lacking logistics ships such as replenishment oilers. Several navies are said to have shown interest.
Other naval missions, e.g. anti-submarine warfare, are also being studied.