This post and its headline have been updated to reflect additional comments from the U.S. Navy.
The Navy will almost certainly select the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor to replace the Northrop Grumman C-2A Greyhound as its next carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft, according to a Jan. 5 memo signed by Department of the Navy leadership.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) — signed by Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Marine Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus — will have the Navy buy four V-22s starting in Fiscal Year 2018 to 2020, according to the document first reported by Breaking Defense.
“The Navy is responsible for modifying these V-22s into an HV-22 configuration for the COD mission,” reads the document.
“The parties agree that subsequent documents will provide details on the concept of operations and milestones. A memorandum of agreement will detail [reimbursable] Marine Corps support for the Navy’s HV-22 transition, which includes training and potential deployment of Marine MV-22 aircraft and personnel to support COD requirements.”
The Navy did not comment on the MOU directly to USNI News and said the final decision would emerge until the budget submission in February.
“The Navy continues to consider acquisition strategies and options to recapitalize the carrier onboard delivery, or COD, capability by 2026,” read the statement provided to USNI News.
“Our recommended way ahead will be submitted as part of the normal budget process.”
Since the 1960s, the Greyhound has served as the utility aircraft for U.S. aircraft carriers, ferrying everything from personnel, to mail, to engines on and off the deck.
Northrop, Bell-Boeing and Lockheed Martin had all pitched solutions to handle the COD mission.
Last year Vice Adm. David Buss, commander Naval Air Forces, said one of the major challenges for any COD would be transporting the F-135 engine for the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
“The high power module in the F-135 is a beast,” Buss said.
“We’re working through a range of options technical and engineering challenges in how we move that module.”
It’s still unclear how the service will transport the engine with the V-22.
The final decision on the aircraft was expected early next month as part of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget submission to Congress though the probable selection of the V-22 as the COD has been circulating in the fleet for months, several sources told USNI News.