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Military Capabilities

Navy League 2018: Pentagon eyes slew of new missions for V-22 Osprey

10 April 2018

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.Aside from a COD and refuelling capability, the Pentagon is considering new weapons or EW systems for the V-22. (US Navy)Aside from a COD and refuelling capability, the Pentagon is considering new weapons or EW systems for the V-22. (US Navy)

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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