The Navy is evaluating a range of aircraft as possible future platforms to perform landing, take-off and delivery missions of supplies and personnel onto aircraft carriers at sea, service officials said.
A new-build aircraft, V-22 Osprey, S-3 Viking aircraft and upgraded C-2 Greyhound plane are among the range of options currently being considered by the Navy for the Carrier Onboard Delivery, or COD, mission, said Brian Scolpino, COD recapitalization manager.
Whichever aircraft is chosen will need to meet a range of mission-specific requirements such as the ability to transport 26 passengers and carry 10,000-pounds of cargo for distances up to 1,150 miles, he said.
The Navy plans to have 44 COD aircraft to perform the mission moving into the future. Vendors for each of the aircraft under consideration have provided specific responses to Navy requests.
“We are evaluating those responses. Ultimately, we will pick one solution,” Scolpino added.
The mission is currently performed by the C-2 Greyhound – a twin-engine, high-wing cargo aircraft first introduced in the 1960s. Since that time, 35 C-2s have been in the Navy inventory, he explained.
“We’re assessing different platforms for the future COD mission. The C-2 is a 60-year old platform. Can it continue to do the mission that we need it to do with an upgrade? Or are there other programs that would be better? The COD mission is basic – you’ve got the requirement to transport crew, cargo and supplies from a shore-based facility to a carrier battle group wherever it is,” Scolpino said.
C-2s are also used for VIP transport, humanitarian relief mission and regular efforts to deliver food, spare parts and equipment for sailors aboard carriers. Also, the aircraft has a reconfigurable cargo bay which can create space for 26-stretchers for medical evacuation and transport.
The C-2’s current service life is projected to last through 2026. Therefore, since the COD mission is slated to continue through at least 2040, the C-2 will need further upgrades if it is the platform chosen, Scolpino explained.
Also, the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet completed a military utility assessment wherein they conducted Osprey flights from Mayport, Fla., and Norfolk, Va., to the USS Harry Truman out at sea. The idea for the flights was to assess the viability of the V-22 Osprey to perform COD missions to and from the deck of the aircraft carrier, said Cmdr. Mike Kafka, spokesman for the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet, Norfolk, Va.
“Within the scope of the assessment, the V-22 demonstrated and effective, flexible and safe capability to conduct the COD mission,” he said.
Formal Navy decisions regarding which aircraft to use for the future are still pending. Scolpino indicated that the Navy plans to make a decision in time for its fiscal year 2016 budget submission.