-T / T / +T | Comment(s)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

V-22 Tests Middle East Waters

By Douglas Nelms

Bell Boeing’s V-22 flies past the helipad-equipped Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai while en route to making its first appearance at the Dubai Airshow in November. Bell Boeing

Bell Boeing showcased the V-22 at the Dubai Airshow for the first time in November, promoting the advantages of the tiltrotor concept to governments in the Middle East. With orders from the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force winding down, the joint venture partners are looking to foreign sales to keep the production line going.

Bell Boeing and NAVAIR are in the process of negotiating a new five-year contract for 122 aircraft. If signed, that contract would begin in FY 2013. However, Defense Department budget cuts could reduce the number of aircraft ordered. The contract may depend on Bell Boeing meeting requirements for a reduction in costs of the aircraft. That reduction could be jeopardized if the number of aircraft ordered is significantly reduced.

However, foreign sales could increase the number of aircraft coming down the production line enough to allow the price of the aircraft to drop. Any V-22s ordered would be available for delivery in 2015. Production rate is currently set at three per month.

Bell Boeing has noted interest among Middle East countries, with Saudi Arabia hinted as a possible buyer. The presence of the V-22 at the Dubai Airshow indicates that the company is seriously involved in trying to find a place for the aircraft in the Middle East. Through November, Bell Boeing has delivered more than 150 Ospreys to 10 squadrons within the U.S. Marine Corps and two within U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. USMC has ordered a total of 360 MV-22s, while the USAF has ordered 50 CV-22s. Another 48 are planned for the U.S. Navy.

Live chat by BoldChat