Home » Aviation » Updated: Navy and Marines Sign MOU for Bell-Boeing Osprey to be Next Carrier Delivery Aircraft


Updated: Navy and Marines Sign MOU for Bell-Boeing Osprey to be Next Carrier Delivery Aircraft

MV-22 Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166, launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) in 2013. US Navy Photo

MV-22 Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166, launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) in 2013. US Navy Photo

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.

A C-2A Greyhound, takes off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). US Navy Photo

A C-2A Greyhound, takes off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). US Navy Photo

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.

  • KenPrescott

    Makes sense. When can we expect the SV-22 to serve as a dual-threat inner/outer zone ASW bird?

    • Marcd30319

      What about the EV-22 version developed for the Royal Navy that could supplement or replace the E-3. That F-35 engine will be a problem.

      • Secundius

        @ Marcd30319.

        Radome would get in the way of Propellers, an Ericson Phased-Array Antenna or Phalcon Conformal Fusealge Phased-Array Radar would better choices…

        • Marcd30319

          Images released of the Royal Navy’s studysuggest a triangular phased radar array. Aviaion Intel has an article dated February 16, 2014 discusses an EV-22 for use with a Navy-Marine Expeditionary Strike Group to provide AWACS capabilities.

          • Secundius

            @ Marced30319.

            I’ve seen the Triangle Shaped Phased Array Antenna. Three problems, first “air resistance/drag” with “blunted-end” facing forward. Second, interferes with wing folding system and propeller folding system. And third, throw’s off “center of gravity” of aircrafts airframe…

          • Marcd30319

            I am sure that the Brits would not have spent time and money from its very tight MOD budget on something that was not feasible. I suspect the technical issues are not insurmountable. Finally, the Grumman E-1 Tracer had the same technical challenges with its own fixed asymetrical radome, and it worked okay.

          • Secundius

            @ Marcd30319.

            At least in the E-1 Tracer’s case the ‘bulbous teardrop” configuration was aerodynamically sound, the non-rotating “triangular-shaped” isn’t. Like the F-117, if it wasn’t for the computers on-board the aircraft, it would never have flown…

          • Marcd30319

            I am sure that the V-22 is fly-by-wire, too. Having been in the defense industry, with enough time and money, any engineering challenge can be solved,

          • Secundius

            @ Marcd30319.

            It is, but only for the specific missions it was designed to do. Reconfiguration of the airframe by adding addition exterior weight of a Above the Fuselage Radar Array and your going to require additional computing power to handle the shifting of the center of gravity of the airframe. Not to mention the flight characteristics of that change, it’s like adding a two-pound weight to the tip of one of a helicopters rotor blades. And you’ll see that helicopter do things it was never meant to do…

  • 2IDSGT

    Holy $hitballs!!! That came out of nowhere! Seriously, I thought there’d be a little more thought/debate put into the selection. I guess is was a matter of neither contender really doing what the USN wanted… so they went with cheaper option.

    • ChiChiChiba

      How is a plane that took 20 years to get operational with astronomical unit price cheaper than fixed wing ?

      • 2IDSGT

        At this point, the V-22’s development cycle time (which is quite standard these days) is irrelevant to the discussion. NG’s proposed upgrade for the C-2 isn’t cheap either, and would bring no new capabilities to the table. Conversely, selecting the V-22 gives up some performance points but changes the game with a new capability to land on all ships in the battlegroup, not just carriers.

        Personally, I’m rather disappointed in NG’s lackluster offering. Surely they could have offered something besides new wings/engines.

      • Secundius

        @ChiChiChiba.

        In 1963 the US. Navy “trapped” an KC-130F Hercules on the CVA-59 USS. Forrestal, Maybe this time around the’ll squadron and ‘cat” launch them from the Ford.

    • muzzleloader

      It sounds more like the appropriate politicians had their palms greased.

    • Secundius

      @ 2IDSGT.

      Look at bright side, going cheaper means more ship’s…

  • ChiChiChiba

    V-22 Osprey $72,000,000.00 to deliver mail?
    What are they thinking. It hauls more than a Greyhound ($36,000,000.00). That’s a lot of technology to deliver cargo.

  • Curtis Conway

    Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) Debate

    The fleet of the future will require reliability, versatility, flexibility, and capability in order to stay out in front of the threat. When we place this prospect within the Pacific Basin we add a whole new dimension to the equation, and divert fields may be far away. Other “Flies in the ointment” are specific and unique logistics requirements for things like outsized cargoes of the future. The F-35’s F135 engine in its shipping container for example. Then let’s add different operating environments that must be supported like an underway Carrier Strike Group (CSG) and an Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) that may, or may not be in the immediate vicinity of each other, or the beach, and that also needs some of that unique logistics support in the form of a peculiar outsized cargo because they fly a similar aircraft with the same engine.
    The Pacific Basin with its vast reaches and large areas and mostly no land around, or volcanic atolls that maybe a V-22 could set down on the beach, is your theater of operations. The flexibility of supporting things with flight decks large and small become much more important and add weight to this factor in the decision making greatly.

    The F-35 is the name of the game for the future in the Marine Corps earlier (2015), and the US Navy later. The F135 engine cannot be placed in either a 260kt cruise speed C-2 Greyhound, or 280kt cruise speed V-22 Osprey intact. However, the 350kt cruise speed S-3 Viking rebuild with a larger fuselage can provide the required support . . . and much more. The S-3 aircraft is reliable and has long legs. The GE TF-34 has better performance (thrust, specific fuel consumption, and logistical support) than its predecessor that powered Vikings of old. Development and construction of a new and modern S-3 Viking capable of carrying the encapsulated F135 engine is very possible and within a rather short period of time. Lockheed has already spent some time on this, and dropping the flag on this rapid prototype project would come on more quickly than a whole new airframe, but time is getting short.
    Flexibility of fleet logistics support, within the context of underway units across a disparate group of aviation capable platforms, is the problem which our solution must fix. Fixed wing is obviously inappropriate for this solution alone. Other considerations in the flexibility argument is support of deployed expeditionary units that may have a vertical landing spot, and if it does, it may support more than just helos. The KV-22 can carry an underslung F135 engine capsule as well.

    Then finally the unforgiving Pacific Basin. Fuel is the key to success if you wish to have the largest probability of survival. How many times in the past did the tanker and a troubled jet head for the beach that was far away? The United States Navy has been without a robust and capable tanker aircraft since the retirement of the KA-6D and the S-3Bs. Time to build a mini KC-46A (multi-function tanker) for the Navy.

    The new KC-3A will be a tanker and a COD. The VRC Squadrons will become composite squadrons operating KC-3A and KV-22 aircraft. The roll-on/roll-off equipment will be interchangeable except for the strap down fuel tanks themselves. Control consoles and some support equipment could be the same. This solution provides flexibility and capability to every CSG that they have not enjoyed for some time. A COMBI KC-3A could escort a jet back to the beach (or escort a flock of birds) and take cargo in half the cargo space on a single longitudinally loaded 463L pallet at the same time. The flexibility of KV-22s to ARGs is already showing possibilities. Training for COD pilots would be platform specific, but require Tanker Specific Training for the flight crew and refueling operators, if that is how it is configured. Refueling operations may be run from the flight deck. The PMA-275 office can manage the KV-22 part of the program and a new PMA-XXX must be stood up for the KC-3A.

    Results will be greater flexibility by the VRCs to be able to get the cargo to wherever it needs to go. The CSGs and ARGs will not have to rely on the ‘Hub and Spoke’ supply chain saving time and fuel (less cost with greater flexibility). The flexibility to resupply all forces anywhere will be added to the VRC tool kit and they will send a COD/Tanker DET to the underway platforms, thus expanding the Battle Force Commanders ability to accomplish his mission effectively and efficiently. Many future logistics problems will have a ready solution where in the past the enemy could count on our logistical train to act in a certain way due to equipment capabilities and limitations.

    Development of a pressurized version of the KV-22 will extend its legs and facilitate the development of and introduction of the EV-22 for the MAGTF in support of ESG Operations in the future.

    The VRC Squadron makeup will be somewhat different. Both will contain KV-22s and KC-3As, but the West Coast’s VRC-30 will be KC-3A heavy.

    This solution provides the greatest versatility, flexibility, and capability with two aircraft that have, or are currently, building very impressive reliability numbers and are both faster than the C-2 Greyhound. This provides a more efficient force in time response and fuel management for underway logistical support.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    Well, they have made the decision to sacrifice some capabilities to gain some others. I hope it works out OK for all involved!

  • CosbyVol

    it seems that the Lockheed S-3, out of the desert and modified, would not only carry the F-35 engine, but also be much more cost effective.

    • XBradTC

      The modification would entail essentially an entirely new aircraft except the wings. It was vaporware from LMT. It would take a decade or more to reach the fleet. It was never going to happen.

  • Secundius

    Marine Corps Osprey Squadrons being down-sized to six-aircrafts per squadron, instead of current twelve per squadron…

  • old guy

    Very expensive Hunk-a-Junk. It was an expensive FLOP as a 23-passenger Marine Attack Aircraft, so now it is an Outrageously expensive cargo plane.The REAL purpose; when they find out (and they will) that it is inadequate, $$$$$ will be poured in to develop the, even dumber,
    “QUAD-LIFTER”.

    • Secundius

      @ old guy.

      If you think the HV-44 “Quad-Lifter”, is a STUPID idea. DARPA is actually considering the feasibility of a “Heli-Carrier”, just like the one used by the S.H.I.E.L.D. Avengers, in the movie…

  • ed2291

    Between this, the F-35, LCS, and the Navy’s “new and improved uniforms” I have the strong impression nobody in a leadership position knows what they are doing. I fear we are painting ourselves into a corner that we may not be able to come out of.

  • Kevin Brent

    That Osprey is nothing but a flying plane crash. Hydraulics leak EVERYWHERE, inside and out. A COD version of the Navy’s E-2D, which is a new build but long proven carrier aircraft is what they should be using.

    • old guy

      For 20 years this junk concept has been the basis for billions in ManTech money. One company, in Pennsylvania. and another in North Carolina have made careers out of this garbage design. They have done marvelous work in metal and plastic manufacturing methods, which may be the only advantage to this fiasco. Remember, even our simpleton President was smart enough to turn it down as his replacement helicopter.

      • Kevin Brent

        Yeah, even he knows it’s dangerous. Though he thinks it’s fine for the troops to fly in…lol

  • They are buying a new platform that can’t move or transport the new F-135 engines. Whats wrong with the US Military?

    • Secundius

      @ WinstonCDN.

      The re-engined V-22C can “sling load” 25,000-pounds (~11340-kilos)…

      • milprof

        True, with enough range to almost make it from Coronado to Miramar. Great if you only need to move the engine from one end of the flight deck to other….

        • Secundius

          @ milprof.

          I’m not up with the “internal” dimensions of the Osprey, but “C” variant internal load carrying capacity was also increased from 10,000-lbs. to 12,000-lbs…

          • old guy

            Something wrong here. 23 passengers X 300#/ passenger (including seat) = 7,000#. Cabin is large enough for 35 troops. Whose lying?

          • Secundius

            @ old guy.

            A typical Douglas DC-3 carried 21-passengers, but the C-47 of WW2 carried 18-Sticks (Paratroopers) and equipment. They increased the Shaft-Horsepower rating by 26%, giving her Greater Lift, Speed, Range and Carrying Capacity…

          • roadrog1

            Secundius:Just to clarify: a stick is a group of paratroopers so “18-Sticks” would be around 100 troopers (assuming a stick of 6…I remember my training stick was 7) Still, what those guys did over Normandy boggles the mind.

          • Secundius

            @ roadrog1.

            The WW2 definition of the word “Stick”: A number of paratroopers who jump from one aperture or door of an aircraft during one run over a drop zone.

            It’s a “Murphyian” definition. If you had too make several passes over a drop zone, each pass was a Stick. If more than one aperture or door on aircraft, that counted as a Stick, too. Anyway you looked at it, you were SCREWED…

            But, I agree the Normandy Night Drop had to be the worse drop. Because you couldn’t see the enemy. The second worse, had to be Operation Market Garden. BAD planing by Montgomery and a Day drop where you could see the Enemy…

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  • Curtis Conway

    If a new KC-3A Super Viking is developed, the internal capacity should be geared for the carry of the F-35’s upgrade engine of the future. General Electric Aviation Engines already has a good idea of what that outside dimension will look like.

    • Secundius

      @ Curtis Conway.

      You might just get your wish. But guess where their going to carry the F-35 engines? It’s not inside the US-3B Fuselage…

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