Saturday, August 1, 2009
Yesterday I watched eight of these babies land at Camp MacKall Airfield, NC - it was like a scene out of a science fiction movie.
I was aware that the idea of Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft with helicopter-like rotors at the wingtips is not new, but I had no idea that the concept originated in the 1930s.
On second thought I guess this makes sense when you consider all the Buck Rogers gee-whizbang coolness they were throwing around back then . . .
The first design resembling modern tiltrotors was patented by George Lehberger in May 1930, but he did not further develop the concept. In World War II, a German prototype, called the Focke-Achgelis FA-269 was developed starting in 1942, but never flew.
The Bell XV-3 - first flown on 11 August 1955 - was a tiltrotor aircraft developed by Bell Helicopter for a joint research program between the United States Air Force and the United States Army. the XV-3 had the engines in the fuselage and drive shafts transferring power out to tilting wingtip rotor assemblies. It was fitted with ejection seats; they were never needed but would have fired downward. (YIPES ! ! ! - S.L.)
XV-15 in takeoff mode.
What was to ultimately become the XV-15 originated in 1971 as a concept at NASA Ames Research Center. The first of two Bell XV-15s first flew on May 3, 1977.
Force Recon Marines conduct military freefall (HALO) ops from an Osprey.
The aircraft designation "V-22 Osprey" was given on 15 January 1985. The USMC variant received the MV-22 designation and the Air Force variant received CV-22. This was reversed from normal procedure to prevent Marine Ospreys from having similar designations as aircraft carriers (CV). Full-scale development of the V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft began in 1986. The first V-22 was rolled out in May 1988. The initial operators are the United States Marine Corps and Air Force; the Army left the program citing a need to focus its budget on more immediate aviation programs.
On 17 September 2007, ten MV-22Bs of VMM-263 deployed for Iraq aboard the USS Wasp. They are primarily used in Iraq's western Anbar province for routine cargo and troop movements, and also for riskier "aero-scout" missions. The V-22 flew 3,000 sorties, racking up 5,200 hours in Iraq as of July 2008. USMC leadership expect to deploy MV-22s to Afghanistan in 2009.
OK let me kill two myths right here - the V-22 Osprey CAN fold for compact storage (for maritime operations) . . .
For compact storage and transport, the V-22's wing rotates to align, front-to-back, with the fuselage.
. . . and it IS possible to fastrope the Osprey:
AFSOC Operators Fast Rope and Hoist out CV-22 Osprey, Hurlburt Field, Florida.
United States Air Force
o 8th Special Operations Squadron (8 SOS) at Hurlburt Field, Florida
o 71st Special Operations Squadron (71 SOS) at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico
o 20th Special Operations Squadron (20 SOS) at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico
United States Marine Corps
o VMMT-204 - Training squadron
o VMX-22 - Marine Tiltrotor Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron