Osprey Refuelling Capability by 2019


The US Marine Corps (USMC) is expecting to achieve Initial Operational Capability (IOC) with an aerial refuelling kit for its Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey by 2019, and hopes to validate refuelling on a series of fixed- and rotary-wing types that the service operates.

Cobham’s palletised V-22 Aerial Refuelling System (VARS) is in the “very early stages” of development, Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Ogden, the US Marine Corps’ MV-22 military platform lead for the V-22 Joint Programme Office, said, but is still targeting the mid-point of 2019 for IOC, which will involve four aircraft being outfitted with the system: “The whole idea of a US Marines expeditionary unit is that we can do missions by ourselves with our fixed-wing aircraft and our (helicopters) and the ground forces that we take,” Lt. Col. Ogden told the IQPC International Military Helicopter conference in London, held in late-January/early-February: “The MV-22B aircraft and the Marines’ expeditionary units will get this (capability).”

The service has so far demonstrated a dry contact using a Boeing F/A-18 family fighter, which is one of a series of aircraft that will be validated for use with the MV-22B as a tanker alongside the USMC’s McDonnell Douglas/Boeing AV-8B Harrier and Lockheed Martin F-35B/C Lightning-II fighters and Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion heavylift helicopters, Lt. Col. Ogden added: “We just wanted to see how the F/A-18 flew with the rotor wash behind the MV-22B. The pilots reported that there were no issues at all, so that was a good thing, and now we’re continuing to develop the actual system itself.”