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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

V-22 Tests Middle East Waters

By Douglas Nelms

Bell Boeing showcased the V-22 at the Dubai Air Show 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 manufacturers are looking to foreign sales to keep the production line going.


Bell Boeing is looking to expand the V-22 to the Middle East. Photo courtesy Bell

Bell Boeing and NAVAIR are negotiating a new five-year contract for 122 aircraft. If signed, that contract will 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 Air Show indicates that Bell Boeing is seriously involved in trying to find a place for the aircraft in the Middle East.

To date, Bell Boeing has delivered more than 150 Ospreys to ten 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.

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