- The US has noticed 'significant interest' in V-22 from about a dozen countries
- FMS deals would help to drive down unit costs
The US Marine Corps (USMC) is still looking to secure its first international customer for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft but believes the market exists in 10-12 countries.
Speaking at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space Expo at National Harbor, Maryland, Colonel Dan Robinson, the USMC's V-22 programme manager, said that interest remained high.
"We probably have 10 or 12 countries that have shown significant interest," Col Robinson said during a press briefing. "A handful of others have shown some interest at air shows and the like."
He added that a US Department of Defense team is currently in Israel for V-22 discussions. US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said last year that V-22 sales to Israel would be expedited.
Last year was the programme's production peak to date, according to Col Robinson, and signing some international contracts at this point would significantly drive down unit costs.
Col Robinson provided some new selling points of the aircraft. For example, readiness rates are up 25% while operating costs are down 20% since 2009, when the USMC launched an effort to improve readiness and to reduce costs.
Meanwhile, an aerial refuelling mission kit for the Osprey is still in the design phase, he said. That capability would primarily be geared towards tanking of the USMC's short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) B-model of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
A prototype of the mission kit could be tested as soon as August if funding is available, according to Col Robinson.