Monday, December 29, 2014

V-22 to get a tanker option

V-22 to get a tanker option: The V-22 Osprey is getting topped-off with a new capability. An aerial refuelling system is being developed for the tilt-rotor aircraft, turning the cargo and personnel carrier into a tanker that can provide fuel to other aircraft, mid-flight.

"The aerial refueling capability is going to be the next thing," for the Osprey, Maj. Douglas Thumm, the plans officer for the V-22 at Headquarters Marine Corps, said.

The Osprey's tanker system is in the early stages of development and won't be ready until 2017, he said.

When operational, the V-22 could refuel the Corps' fleet of aircraft, including the new F-35B Lightning II. It could also rendezvous with ground vehicles, land, and fill them up, Thumm said. Many of the Corps' ground vehicles can run on aviation fuel, he said.

This new capability will extend the range of combat aircraft without having to turn to other services or allies for aerial refueling, according to the Corps' 10-year aviation plan released this fall.

This will make the air combat element more independent and flexible since it won't have to rely on other services' tankers, and because the Osprey doesn't require a well-developed airstrip like fixed-wing aircraft, Thumm said.