F-35 Joint Strike Fighter-maker Lockheed Martin isn't the only defense contractor going on a PR offensive to hedge against budget cuts to a controversial aircraft. Boeing (and the Marines) just put out a press release touting record amounts of international interest the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor garnered at the Dubai air show.
Boeing has discussed potential V-22 exports when reporters broached the topic for years now, but this is the first time I've seen the company push us info on the Osprey's potential business opportunities outside of the U.S. Whenever I've discussed the prospects of international V-22 sales with Boeing execs, they have said there's plenty of international interest but that the relatively high cost of the Osprey is a significant challenge to selling the bird to smaller countries.
This comes as the Pentagon is reviewing every single weapons program as it looks to shave billions from its budgets. Controversial and aircraft like the F-35 and V-22 are seen as ripe for pruning by some observers.
Click through the jump to read what the Boeing has to say about the potential for export sales. Keep in mind that international sales would help Boeing by allowing it to reduce the cost of each aircraft therefore making it even more appealing to DoD weapons buyers. International sales would also help dull the impact of any cuts to the Pentagon's orders.
The Bell Boeing V-22 Program, a strategic alliance between Bell Helicopter, a Textron Company [NYSE: TXT], and The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA], drew wide international attention at the Dubai Airshow held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from Nov. 13 to 17.
“The V-22 Osprey received significant interest at the Dubai Airshow from potential customers from around the world,” said John Rader, executive director of the Bell Boeing V-22 Program. “It is clear the V-22 is the right solution for those seeking range, speed, payload, and operational efficiency for military and humanitarian operations.”
The V-22 Osprey is a joint service, multirole combat aircraft that uses tiltrotor technology to combine the vertical performance of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft. With its nacelles and rotors in vertical position, it can take off, land and hover like a helicopter. Once airborne, its nacelles can be rotated to transition the aircraft to a turboprop airplane capable of high-speed, high-altitude flight.
"The amount of interest in the V-22 exceeded our highest expectations leading up to the show, with many regional officials requesting briefings and demonstration flights," said Michael Andersen, deputy director, Bell Boeing V-22 Program. "We are now working on follow-up visits and providing information as requested by several governments."
The Osprey currently is flown by the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), and the operational fleet has amassed about 125,000 flight hours, nearly half of which have come in the past two years. A total of 10 Marine Corps and two AFSOC squadrons are operationally deployable today, and the two services have together logged 16 successful combat, humanitarian, ship-based or Special Operations deployments since 2007.
“The V-22 was very well received by the international community in Dubai,” said Marine Corps Col. Greg Masiello, head of the V-22 Joint Program Office (PMA-275) at the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). “With its unprecedented range, speed and survivability, the Osprey is perfectly suited to many of the missions that Middle Eastern forces require.”