I know there's some debate around these parts on whether or not the Osprey is combat effective with or without a defensive weapon.
We all know the MV-22 has a ramp-mounted gun pointing aft, which gives the plane very little in the way of fire supression in a hot LZ (that is, if the gun works. On my last flight on the Osprey in Iraq one of the planes' guns malfunctioned)...
My impression from flying around in several Ospreys in Iraq is that the speed and agility make up for a lack of defensive firepower...you don't see a door gun on a C-130 do you? But I can still understand why the SOF community wants a little more bang bang given its mission. And it seems to me that if you can then why don't you put a lead-spitting gatling gun on the darn thing. Better safe than sorry, I say.
So BAE Systems has been working with the SOF CV-22 folks to design a defensive weapon that sits under the Osprey's belly and can swing 360 degrees for covering fire. They just sent me a release yesterday that showed the company is well on its way to flight testing the gun, a modified GAU-2B minigun. It's an version of the company's Remote Guardian system which is intended for a variety of rotary aircraft in the US inventory.
I know our friends at Aviation Week reported the official "unveiling" of the system last fall at Modern Day Marine, but this marks the first time the system has been installed on an actual plane, readying it for the first test flight and aerial fire...
(PHOTO: BAE Systems)