The Pentagon is working on a series of programmes for the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to standardise the fleet and to add carrier onboard delivery and aerial refuelling capabilities, and is mulling new weapons or electronic warfare systems.
In the long term, the US Navy, US Air Force, and US Marine Corps (USMC) are considering arming the V-22 with “a variety of different things” but there are no finalised requirements, USMC Colonel Matthew Kelly, programme manager for the V-22 Joint Program Office (PMA-275), told reporters during a 10 April briefing at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space exposition.
The USMC has added Harvest Hercules Airborne Weapons Kit (HAWK) packages to some Lockheed Martin KC-130J Hercules turboprop aircraft, and had considered a similar package for the V-22, among others. Harvest HAWK includes a roll-on/roll-off dual-screen fire-control console mounted in a removable platform in the aircraft's cargo compartment, a Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-30 target sight sensor mounted under the port-side wing fuel tank, and a Common Data Link. That configuration includes four AGM-114P Hellfire II laser-guided air-to-surface missiles mounted on the KC-130J’s refuelling pylon, and MBDA GBU-44/E Viper Strike and Raytheon Griffin air-to-surface missiles launched from a ramp-mounted 10-round rack.
Similarly, the V-22 is being eyed for electronic warfare (EW) or airborne early warning roles as well, but no requirements have been specified. “It could be a jammer, could be airborne early warning,” Col Kelly said. “There’s no requirement for any of those right now, but when we think about what a V-22 can do, there are lots of possibilities.”
He added: “There’s nothing that would keep you from putting a radar on it or doing the EW mission.”
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