Prospective customers of the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey need to place their orders sooner rather than later as the tiltrotor’s production run enters into its final stages, Boeing warned ahead of the Paris Air Show.
Speaking at Boeing’s Philadelphia production facility in Pennsylvania, Rick Lemaster, Director Vertical-Lift Global Sales and Marketing, said the company is currently talking to “about a dozen” interested countries in a final attempt to add to Japan’s only export order for the platform.
“We are getting to the end of the window if you’ve been putting off buying the V-22. With the current multi-year III contract about half-way through its five-year run, international customers need to be having LoAs (letters of acceptance) signed with the US government by about September 2020,” Lemaster said.
He declined to identify the potential customers that Bell-Boeing is talking to, except to note that Israel has shown strong interest. He said that “countries with blue water navies and new aircraft carriers” have also been in discussions.
Sales for the V-22 comprise 360 MV-22Bs for the US Marine Corps (USMC), 54 CV-22Bs for the US Air Force (USAF), 48 CMV-22Bs for the US Navy (USN), and 17 MV-22Bs for the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force (GSDF). Lemaster said he sees potential for a further 50 sales but conceded that the pace and level of exports to date has been disappointing.
“I thought we would be a lot further along with international customers by this stage of the programme, based on the capabilities that the V-22 offers. The international market has been very slow to mature,” he said. “Some say it is an expensive helicopter but it is also a pretty cheap C-130 [fixed-wing transport aircraft]. If you want an aircraft that does both then this is what you need.”
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