The U.S. Navy several years ago made the smart decision to replace aged turboprop aircraft used for delivering critical supplies to carriers at sea with a version of the Bell/Boeing V-22 tiltrotor. Tiltrotors combine the vertical agility of a helicopter with the speed and reach of a fixed-wing aircraft, making them a uniquely flexible tactical asset. However, the Navy elected to purchase only 44 of the aircraft, which are designated CMV-22B. That isn’t likely to be a sufficient force to meet Navy needs through mid-century. As the service transitions to distributed maritime operations and finds additional uses for CMV-22B such as search and rescue, it needs to think through what its long-term needs will be. That assessment should be conducted expeditiously, because the V-22 line is destined to shut down at mid-decade in the absence of new orders. Once the supply chain dissipates and the workforce is dispersed, it will become prohibitively expensive to reconstitute production no matter how urgent the need. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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