Navy's New Osprey Gets Feature to Work With F-35

Boeing Defense released artwork showing the new CMV-22 Osprey variant for the Navy. Via Twitter
Boeing Defense released artwork showing the new CMV-22 Osprey variant for the Navy. Via Twitter

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Navy is getting ready to deploy two brand-new aircraft variants at the same time.

The carrier-capable F-35C and the CMV-22 Navy-variant Osprey are set to enter service in 2020, and both are scheduled to deploy for the first time in 2021.

In an interview at the annual Sea-Air-Space expo Monday, directors with CMV-22 co-designer Bell Helicopter said steps are already being taken to ensure the Navy's Osprey operates smoothly with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

"One of the components of the JSF engine is the lift fan," said Scott Clifton, director of business development for Bell. "So we've been able to create a device where we can carry the lift fan in the back of a CMV-22."

While the carrier-launched F-35C does not have a lift fan, its Marine Corps counterpart, the F-35B, does. The Rolls-Royce-patented design allows the F-35B to take off and land vertically on amphibious ships, giving it heightened flexibility for operations at sea.

Clifton said the carrying system for the lift fan designed to fit inside the CMV-22 would increase efficiency and decrease the chances of damage happening to expensive components in transit.

"[The CMV-22] will be able to deliver F-35 components directly to the air-capable ships," he said. "You don't have to sling-load it between ships during an [underway replenishment]. ... CMV-22 will be able to take those components directly to the ship, land there, roll them off and ready."

The CMV-22 is also being designed with other features specific to its designated mission of carrier onboard delivery (COD), including additional fuel tanks, a beyond-line-of-sight HF antenna, a public address system in the back of the aircraft, and a Navy-specific paint job.

The Navy is planning to buy 44 of the aircraft to replace the aging C-2 Greyhounds currently tasked with the COD mission.

Bell is working with the Navy, Clifton said, to develop training for pilots and aircrew who are switching to the new platform.

"We're handing those pilots basically the ability to go same range, same speed and the same payload, but now [they] can stop and land vertically when we get there," he said. "It actually makes things very simple."

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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