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CMV-22B - Carrier Onboard Delivery

In February 2015, the Navy announced the Carrier Onboard Delivery, commonly referred to as COD, platform of the future would be a maritime variant of the V-22 Osprey. Until recently, that aircraft was referred to as the Navy variant. On 03 February 2016, that V-22 was given an official designation: CMV-22B.

Navy Program Element PE 0605525N Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) Follow On supported the risk reduction and programmatic activities to recapitalize the Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) capability. This medium-lift/long-range logistics aircraft will provide critical air connector capability for time-critical logistics within the Navy Seabasing logistics enabling concept in support of the Carrier Strike Groups. This capability was provided by the C-2A Greyhounds, which are projected to begin retiring in large numbers as they reach their fatigue service life limits and the force falls below primary aircraft allocation in 2028.

The main mission of the COD platform is to provide the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander with time-critical, long-range aerial logistics support by transporting personnel, mail and priority cargo from advance bases to the sea base. The CMV-22B will be the same as the MV-22B with three additions. It will include an extended-range fuel system, a high-frequency radio and a public address system. As of 2016, the Navy planned for a total of 44 CMV-22B aircraft to be purchased. Production was expected to begin in fiscal 2018 and deliveries of the aircraft to begin in 2020.

The MH-53E Sea Dragon continued to conduct airborne mine countermeasures, vertical on-board delivery and heavy-lift missions in the fleet. Current plans include transitioning the MH-53E airborne mine countermeasures capability to the Littoral Combat Ship Mine Countermeasures Mission Package, which includes the MH-60S and various unmanned airborne, surface and subsurface vehicles. Although the Navy has not yet identified a replacement for the MH-53E's heavy lift capability, the CMV-22B will provide interim vertical onboard delivery mission support beginning in 2021 as an adjunct capability.

On 31 March 2016 Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, was awarded $151,274,907 for cost-plus- fixed-fee order 0130 against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-12-G-0006) for non-recurring engineering services associated with the development of the capability for the Navy variant of the V-22 (CMV-22B) to perform the carrier on-board delivery mission. The capability being added to the baseline MV-22 aircraft is extended range, high frequency beyond line-of-sight radio and a public address system. Work will be performed at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (71.02 percent); Fort Worth, Texas (20.31 percent); Rockmart, Georgia (3.96 percent); St. Louis, Missouri (2.57 percent); and various locations within the continental U.S. (2.14 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2020. Fiscal 2016 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $15,674,576 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

Bell Boeing, the partnership between Bell Helicopter and Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, produced MV-22s for the Marines and CV-22s for the Air Force. Under the Navy contract the joint manufacturers of the V-22 would develop three new capabilities to better enable the platform to perform the COD mission beginning in 2021. The contract called for Bell Boeing to modify the Marine version by engineering three new capabilities for the Navy’s variant: an extended range up to 1,150 nautical miles, beyond-visual-range high-frequency radio and a public address system.

The contract did not specify a method for extending the aircraft’s range by one third — the MV-22B’s listed range is 860 nautical miles — but the options proposed by the vendor were promising, and included modified sponsons to accommodate larger fuel tanks. The CV-22B achieves a listed range of 2,100 nautical miles using internal auxiliary fuel tanks, which the Navy will use for long-range transits, such as from the West Coast to Hawaii, but for operational missions, the Navy cannot sacrifice cargo space. The major requirement driver for the CMV-22B is supporting Carrier Strike Group operations in the Pacific within the vast distances involved. The required range of 1,150 nautical miles is roughly half the distance from California to Hawaii. The need to fly these distances and still carry meaningful amounts of cargo to the ship presents a challenge.

The distances the CMV-22B will be traveling are also why it needs a beyond-line-of-sight radio system capable of reaching ships past the horizon. This is a critical safety issue, particularly in the shore-to-ship mission profile, where often the aircrew has no divert options. These long missions have a ‘point of no return,’ when the pilot has to make the decision to return to base or continue to the ship. Before this time, the aircrew must be able to contact the ship to determine its location, course and speed, as well as the weather and tactical situation.

The extended range and high-frequency radio enable the delivery of cargo to the sea base, while the public address system is necessary for a secondary as- signment—transporting passengers. This is a safety issue. Currently on the MV and the CV, the crew can communicate with troops via headsets or hand signals, but passengers do not have that training, so the crew needs another way to communicate and give them information or directions.

These three changes will make the CMV-22B capable of performing the carrier-based logistics support mission the C-2 Greyhound has performed since 1965, but with additional flexibility. The runway- dependent Greyhound can only deliver to carriers, and then helicopters are used to disperse cargo to the rest of the strike group. With its vertical take-off-and- land capability, the CMV-22B could potentially bypass the carrier altogether and deliver cargo directly to a destroyer or guided missile cruiser.

It’s a very attractive capability. That’s one of the things that the leadership saw in this scenario, with a lot more operational flexibility. That flexibility and the V-22’s relative affordability as an aircraft already in production were principle factors considered by Navy leadership during selection of the next COD platform.

The Osprey offered other advantages. First, it is a maritime aircraft that performs a similar mission on large deck amphibious ships. Another advantage was that the V-22 is already in production. That meant the Navy had a minimal development time since it was nearly off-the-shelf. The service didn’t have to go through the long acquisition process normally required to start from a clean sheet of paper. Another cost-savings opportunity is to buy into the existing Marine Corps training program for aircrew and maintainers. THe Navy would draw up military construction proposals for maintenance hangars as required on both coasts, and procuring ground support equipment with the help of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

The Navy did not plan to stand up new squadrons, but rather would leverage existing infrastructure to avoid additional cost. According to the Office of Naval Operations Air Warfare Division (N98), the Navy would keep the current COD crews in place at bases in Nor- folk, Virginia, and North Island, California. There was often resistance to change in these types of transitions, and the COD community, having flown the same aircraft for 50 years, was no different.

The first CMV-22B Osprey completed first flight operations at Bell’s Amarillo Assembly Center on 21 January 2020. “With the ability to travel up to 1,150 nautical miles, the CMV-22B will be a lifeline for our servicemen and women out at sea,” said Kristin Houston, vice president, Boeing Tiltrotor Programs and director, Bell Boeing V-22 Program. “The quality and safety built into this aircraft will revolutionize the way the U.S. Navy fulfills its critical carrier onboard delivery mission.”

Bell Boeing delivered the first CMV-22B to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 in early 2020 for developmental test. The U.S. Navy will use the CMV-22B to replace the C-2A Greyhound for transporting personnel, mail, supplies and high-priority cargo from shore bases to aircraft carriers at sea. Bell Boeing designed the Navy variant specifically for carrier fleet operations by providing increased fuel capacity for the extended range requirement. The mission flexibility of the Osprey will increase operational capabilities and readiness, in addition to ferrying major components of the F-35 engine.

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