Delivering the power
World-renowned British engine manufacturing company Rolls-Royce won a contract with the United States Navy (USN) to produce 28 power plants for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft operated by the USN and United States Marine Corps (USMC). On December 28, 2022, the US Department of Defense (DoD) said the USN had awarded a contract worth $74.6 million for the delivery of AE 1107C Liberty engines to the firm that will deliver the powerplants by December 2023.
Of the twenty-eight, twenty-four engines are going to production aircraft, while four will be set aside as reserves. Production is set to take place at the Rolls-Royce turbine engine manufacturing plant in Indianapolis, Indiana.The Osprey has been in service with the USMC since 2012. Its main purpose is that of a medium-lift troop carrier and logistics support platform. The Marine Corps presently operates a fleet of 289 Ospreys under the designation MV-22.
Given its relative novelty, the type has a troubled safety record, including numerous fatal accidents since its introduction and multiple crashes, particularly in the years 2021 and 2022. Analysis of Pentagon aviation safety data shows that the USMC boasts a significantly higher rate of serious accidents than any other branch of the United States military.
The US Navy in recent years has been developing its own fleet of V-22s that looks promising and more technologically developed than the Ospreys that the Marine Corps operates. This is due to budget discrepancies between the two branches and the main purpose of the aircraft, essentially.
Designated the CMV-22, they are meant to take over the carrier onboard delivery (COD) mission from the ageing Grumman C-2A Greyhound, albeit that the C-2A is not a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle similar to the V-22. The Corps declared initial operational capability (IOC) on the CMV-22 programme in February 2022 as many improvements are underway.
The US Navy presently operates 19 Ospreys, but plans are set to acquire 42 more. The Navy also reported that the CMV-22 variant has an internal capacity for 50% more fuel than the USMC’s Ospreys. The CMV-22 can transport up to 6,000lb over a 1,150nm range. Each AE 1107C engine delivers 6,200hp of power. The type made its first operational deployment with the USN in 2021.
Additional Fuel Capacity
The US Naval Air Systems Command said the Navy achieved the additional fuel capacity and flight range by redesigning the forward sponson fuel tanks and adding two wing tanks.
“As our fighter-attack and surveillance aircraft expand in both capability and size to extend the range of the carrier air wing, we must also evolve our support aircraft, in tandem, to supply those platforms,” said Osprey joint programme manager USMC Colonel Brian Taylor in February 2022 when the USN declared IOC on the COD V-22 fleet.
He added that “the CMV-22B will transport cargo and personnel to outfit the most advanced aircraft carrier strike groups as we continue to meet the needs of our missions worldwide.”