A delegation of air force pilots will return next week from an additional round of flights on the Boeing-produced V-22.
Bob Carrese, manager of the development program for the plane, told IsraelDefense in a meeting at the Paris air show that “the plane can open new possibilities for the air force.”
The V-22 is a multimission plane that uses rotor technologies to integrate vertical takeoff, landing, and gliding capabilities as for a helicopter, but with the flight speed, range, and altitude of a fixed-wing plane.
The air force is considering future procurement of the plane in the framework of its multiyear plan. According to Carrese, the plane is not a substitute for any of the existing air force planes but can give the air force operational capabilities it does not have at present – including search and rescue, special-forces transport, and logistical tasks. “At the speed of a plane, the V-22 can already reach an area where rescue is needed in the first hour, which is considered critical for saving lives, and can function in the field like a helicopter.”
A special field vehicle for the plane was developed in the United States. This vehicle fits under its “belly” and can alight along with the fighting forces at any point in the field.
The U.S. air force is using a V-22 squadron in Afghanistan and in Libya, and the plane has surpassed 100,000 hours of operational flying. According to Boeing, the V-22 can carry 24 soldiers and 20,000 pounds of internal cargo or 15,000 pounds of external cargo while using its vertical takeoff and landing capability. Boeing is responsible for the body of the plane and all its subsytems, digital avionics, and flight control systems.
Boeing’s partner, Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., is responsible for the wings, transmission, tail assembly, rotor systems, and engine installation. The price of the plane for the U.S. forces, as published in the United States, came to $63 million.
Bob Carrese said that the contacts regarding the air force’s possible acquistion of the plane are in the framework of a possible deal between governments. “We are providing the air force with all the information it needs and allowing its people to fly in the plane.”