The V-22 Osprey May Have Climbed out of Controversy

New developments may change fortunes of an aircraft with a plagued past.

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An MV-22 Osprey landing aboard the USNS Robert E. Peary.

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"The Osprey, its pilots and crews have made their case and done it very well," Ulsh says. "The aircraft and the capability it offers are staples in our fleet and will remain so well into the future. The introduction of the MV-22B Osprey to HMX-1 to fly presidential support missions is significant as it highlights the maturation of the aircraft and further lends credence to its proven and sound technology."

These MV-22s will be limited to transporting support personnel and equipment. This is largely because the Osprey cannot fit inside aircraft that brings the president's helicopters with him on foreign travel, unlike the modified version of the VH-60N Blackhawk helicopter the commander in chief travels with today. The Osprey's wing and rotor span could also have a hard time fitting on the South Lawn.

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The military has expressed interest in Ospreys that can themselves refuel other new-age aircraft, such as the much discussed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

"Both the MV-22 Marine Corps variant, and the CV-22 Air Force Special Operations variant, can be easily kitted to serve in the aerial tanker role," says Joe Weston, senior manager of V-22 Business Development for Boeing.

Boeing has already conducted wind-tunnel testing of a setup comprised of an internal fuel tank and a "hose and drogue" system placed in the V-22's cabin, which can refuel another aircraft. This "Roll On-Roll Off" system allows the V-22 to become a "viable aerial tanker and a flexible resource for organic fueling of another aircraft, including fighters," Weston says.

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