The CV-22 Osprey is the U.S. Air Force special operations variant of the V-22 tiltrotor transport aircraft. It features enhancements and flight control systems that enable it to operate in high-risk combat environments to rescue downed pilots, or insert and extract special operations forces behind enemy lines.
This versatile, self-deployable aircraft offers increased speed and range over other rotary-wing aircraft, enabling Air Force Special Operations Command aircrews to execute long-range special operations missions. The CV-22 can perform missions that normally would require both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. The CV-22 takes off vertically and, once airborne, the nacelles (engine and prop-rotor group) on each wing can rotate into a forward position.
The CV-22 is equipped with integrated threat countermeasures, terrain-following radar, forward-looking infrared sensor and other advanced avionics systems that allow it to operate at low altitude in adverse weather conditions and medium- to high-threat environments.
The first two test aircraft were delivered to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in September 2000. The 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland AFB, N.M., began CV-22 aircrew training with the first two production aircraft in August 2006.
The first operational CV-22 was delivered to Air Force Special Operations Command's 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., in January 2007. Initial operational capability was achieved in 2009. The 27th Special Operations Wing, Cannon Air Force Base, NM, received its first CV-22 in May 2010. A total of 50 CV-22 aircraft are scheduled to be delivered by 2016.
A CV-22 crashed in Afghanistan in 2010 during a raid with 19 Army Rangers aboard, killing four, including a pilot, a Ranger, a CV-22 flight engineer and an Afghan interpreter. Another CV-22 crashed during training at Hurlburt Field, Fla., in June 2012. There were no injuries in the incident, but the aircraft was destroyed.