Bell Boeing initiates V-22 aerial refueling tests
A V-22 Osprey helicopter has successfully completed a test flight in which it used a prototype aerial refueling system to demonstrate its potential to perform as an aerial refueling tanker. The flight, part of the Bell Boeing V-22 programme, was held in August over north Texas in the US.
The V-22 is a combat-proven tiltrotor designed to fly horizontally at high speeds and high altitudes like a fixed-wing aircraft, and take off and land vertically like a helicopter. Bell Boeing believes that adding an aerial refueling capability to the V-22 would advance its versatility in combat, humanitarian and ship-based operations.
The flight saw the V-22 safely deploy, hold stable and retract the prototype aerial refueling system while an F/A-18C and an F/A-18D Hornet flew just behind and to the side of the aircraft.
Vince Tobin, Bell Boeing V-22 program director, said: ‘Adding aerial refueling tanker capability to the V-22 will enable operators to execute a wider variety of missions with greater flexibility and autonomy. This will save time and money by maximising the efficient use of aircraft and personnel.’
The next stage of the programme will see Bell Boeing test an aircraft in the fuel-receiving position directly behind the V-22; connect receiver aircraft with the refueling drogue and, ultimately, refuel a variety of aircraft in flight.
Bell Boeing are working on a multi-year contract to deliver 99 V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to the US military. Valued at $6.5 billion, the order will include 92 MV-22 models for the US Marine Corps and seven CV-22 models for the US Air Force Special Operations Command. At the Paris Air Show in June, Bell Boeing said that interest from international customers was growing, and at that time expected new orders to be placed shortly.
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