The V-22 Osprey tiltrotor is the “Energizer bunny” of defense programs. It has survived repeated attempts to kill the program. It overcame a series of tragic accidents and initial production problems. Now in full rate production, the V-22 is proving itself to be everything its advocates envisioned and more. In fact, the Marine Corps is sending additional V-22s to Afghanistan to supplement the squadron of ten that are currently in country. The rugged nature of that country’s terrain, the high altitudes and the long distances that must be traveled are conditions extremely well-suited to the V-22. It has also served as an aerial ambulance ferrying wounded from the battlefield to emergency aid stations.
The V-22 is demonstrating a versatility that is beyond even what its supporters might have envisioned. Equipped with a 7.62 remote gun system, the V-22 will be able both to defend itself and to operate as a gunship, if needed. It is possible that the V-22 could be equipped with other weapons.
The V-22 is a significant addition to the Navy/Marine Corps team’s ability to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Unlike conventional aircraft, the V-22 does not need a long runway. V-22s have been supporting the relief mission to Haiti almost from the first day.
There are other potential roles for the V-22. Its speed and vertical take-off and landing ability make it a potential candidate for part of the combat search and rescue mission. These same features make the V-22 at least a potential candidate for the mission of moving supplies and personnel to and from the Navy’s carrier battle groups. The V-22 could also prove incredibly useful in the military’s expanded role of supporting civil authorities in the homeland.
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