Bell Boeing has received a US$81m contract to design and install nacelle modification kits and conversion area harnesses on US Air Force Special Operations Command’s (AFSOC’s) fleet of CV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.
The contract award was announced by the US Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) on January 27. In the release, NAVAIR stated that the initial kit deliveries and installs will be completed at Bell’s assembly centre in Amarillo, Texas, later this year. It added that the US Marine Corps and US Navy are both seeking to incorporate the improvements onto their own respective MV-22B and CMV-22B fleets.
Col Matthew Kelly, programme manager at the V-22 Joint Program Office (JPO), said: “This complex effort will improve both the reliability and maintainability in one of the most critical areas on the aircraft. This contract implements the most comprehensive maintainability improvement since CV-22 fleet introduction 14 years ago; it will quickly pay readiness dividends for the fleet.”
The V-22’s nacelles house the tiltrotor’s various power and propulsion components, while the conversion area harnesses feature complex wiring bundles that route through each nacelle to feed power throughout the aircraft. The nacelles and harnesses are two of the Osprey’s most crucial and complex elements, being responsible for giving the platform its unique ability to fly vertically and horizontally. These planned modifications have been designed as a result of feedback from USAF and USMC maintenance personnel as a way to improve access to the nacelles.
Col Brian Clifford, CV-22 programme manager at the V-22 JPO, added: “Approximately 60% of maintenance man hours are spent in the nacelles. By refining the design for maintainability in these areas, we will ultimately reduce repair time and improve readiness… The team’s efforts to get this contract negotiated and awarded were exemplary; the results of this contract will have positive and significant impacts to the AFSOC CV-22B fleet.”
The CV-22B Osprey entered operational service with the USAF in March 2006. AFSOC currently maintains a fleet of 51 aircraft and is awaiting the delivery of the 52nd and final example, which was contracted for production in June 2018. The CV-22B is employed to support vertical/short take-off and landing (V/STOL) troop transport and special operations missions.