The $332.5 million contract for the Block C version of the Osprey included support, training, and equipment to boost the mobility of Japan’s Self-Defenses Force and provide a faster and more agile platform in response to natural disasters, Bell Boeing said in a statement Tuesday.
The five Ospreys were expected to be the first phase in the delivery of a total of 17 of the aircraft to Japan for a total cost of about $3 billion.
“The Bell Boeing team is honored to have Japan as the first international customer for the V-22 tilt-rotor,” said Mitch Snyder, executive vice president of Military Business for Bell Helicopter.
“This is an important day for the Bell Boeing team in Japan and for the U.S.-Japan alliance,” said Shelley Lavender, president of Boeing Military Aircraft. “The V-22 redefines what’s operationally possible for a country, and we’re looking forward to delivering this capability to Japan.”
For years, the Navy and Bell Boeing have shopped the Osprey to other countries at airshows and other venues, touting its greater range, speed and lift capacity over conventional helicopters, but there were no takers until Japan.
In 2013, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a deal to send six Ospreys to Israel, but the arrangement has been on hold over financing.
The MV-22 version of the Osprey has been fielded by the Marine Corps since 2007. Air Force Special Operations currently flies the CV-22 version of the Osprey.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@military.com