The program director for the Air Force spec ops version of the V-22 said Tuesday the tiltrotor aircraft should begin initial operational test and evaluation flights by late October or early November.
Col. Tarik Abboushi said at a breakfast meeting with reporters hes drawing upon prior testing by the Marine Corps to get their MV-22 operational to help inform his test regime, but added hes concentrating on working through the integration of key subsystems, including terrain-following radar, defensive countermeasures and navigation systems.
Abboushi also said AFSOC has issued a requirement for an all-quadrant gun. Currently the CV-22 uses a ramp-mounted weapon system for defensive fire. Abboushi said it was unclear whether the all-quadrant gun would require design changes, but he said he's pretty sure major changes will probably not be needed.
The CV-22 is expected to breeze through IOT&E for a go-ahead by Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center to enter into initial operational capability with AFSOC in early 2009, Abboushi said.