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Friday, May 20, 2016

Alaska, Pennsylvania, Texas Guard Units Eye V-22

James T. McKenna

Air National Guard officials in Alaska, Pennsylvania and Texas are discussing the possibility of acquiring V-22s for search and rescue missions, according to a published report.
The U.S. Navy's V-22 deputy program manager told AHS International's annual Technical Forum yesterday that "there has been some dialogue with the Air Force Air Guard" and officials in those states have "shown some interest," according to a report in BreakingDefense.com. The report's author, Richard Whittle, is also an R&WI contributor.
Deputy Program Manager Scott Hite of the Naval Air Systems Command discussed the matter through a remote hookup during the forum's session in West Palm Beach, Florida, updating the status of Navy and Marine Corps programs. 
Whittle noted that Alaska's interest "makes a lot of sense, given that state's vastness and the far greater speed and range the V-22 offers compared to conventional helicopters."
He added that, "politics being part of the equation in any major Defense Department acquisition program," interest from Pennsylvania and Texas also makes sense. Boeing builds the tilt rotor's fuselage and empennage near Philadelphia. Its program partner, Bell Helicopter, builds much of the V-22's wing and rotors in Fort Worth, Texas, and assembles the Osprey in Amarillo. "Air National Guard units answer to their state governors unless federalized," Whittle noted.
Hite said the Air National Guard interest in the V-22 is not firm, partly because "obviously it's not a cheap platform compared to some of the other rotary-wing platforms," Whittle reported. He added that the Marines' version, the MV-22B, costs nearly $70 million a piece, while "conventional military transport helicopters can be bought for less than half as much."
The Marines have taken delivery of 253 V-22s and plan to acquire a total of 360, Whittle said, although Marine leaders have said they would like to get at least 28 more. The Air Force Special Operations Command has taken delivery of 52 CV-22Bs, he reported, and might buy a few more as attrition aircraft to replace losses (citing Hite). The Navy plans to buy 44 CMV-22s to replace its fixed-wing C-2A Greyhounds in the carrier onboard delivery mission.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force
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