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Manufacturer: Bell Helicopter TextronServices: USMC Power Plant: 2x Rolls Royce-Allison AE1107C turbo shaft engines Speed: 277 mph Armament: 1x M2 .50 Cal machine gun Range: 500 nm Payload: 24 troops Crew: Four (pilot, copilot and two flight engineers)
The MV-22 Osprey is the primary assault support aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps. It was fielded to replace the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter and has been deployed to support troops in combat since 2007.
The Osprey is unique in that it uses two engines positioned on fixed wing tips housed in nacelles that rotate to allow the MV-22 to land and take off vertically, but achieve much faster flight than a helicopter by tilting the nacelles forward while in flight in a configuration similar to a fixed-wing aircraft.
With the speed and range of a turboprop, the maneuverability of a helicopter and the ability to carry 24 Marine combat troops twice as fast and five times farther than previous helicopters, the Osprey enhances Marine assault operations. The Osprey's impact was felt immediately upon its arrival in Iraq. Commenting on its advanced expeditionary capabilities and staggering operational reach, a top Marine commander went as far as to say it turned his battle space "from the size of Texas into the size of Rhode Island."
The Osprey program faced several developmental challenges since its first flight in 1989, including several crashes during tests that resulted in 30 deaths. But the Navy and Marine Corps developed new flight techniques and enhanced systems before it first deployed to Iraq in support of Marine operations in Anbar province and the aircraft has proven safer than many rotary-wing aircraft in the fleet.
The MV-22 also provides transport for White House staff as part of the HMX-1 presidential squadron based in Quantico, Va.