Osprey Aircraft Test-Fire Rockets and Missiles

MV-22BBell Boeing recently test fired laser-guided rockets from the V-22 Osprey aircraft in a series of mock combat demonstrations at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., showing for the first time that the tiltrotor aircraft can be used for offensive missile and rocket attacks.

The forward-firing flights at Yuma shot a range of guided and unguided rockets from the Osprey, including laser-guided folding-fin, Hyrda-70 Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System rockets and laser-guided Griffin B missiles, Bell helicopter officials said.

“The forward-firing demonstration was a great success,” Vince Tobin, vice president and program manager for the Bell Boeing V-22 said in a written statement. “We’ve shown the V-22 can be armed with a variety of forward-facing munitions, and can hit their targets with a high degree of reliability.”

Bell Boeing has delivered 242 MV-22 tiltrotor for the Marine Corps and 44 CV-22 for Air Force Special Operations Command.  Bell Helicopter began initial design work on forward fire capability in mid-2013, company officials said.

V-22 Osprey aircraft have been deployed in Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. The aircraft are often used for humanitarian assistance, casualty recovery, medical evacuation, VIP transport and raid missions. If the Marines or Air Force choose to use the rocket or missile capability, the Osprey will gain additional offensive attack mission possibilities.

“Integrating a forward firing capability to the Osprey will increase its mission set,” Tobin continued. “These weapons, once installed, will provide added firepower and reduce reliance on Forward Arming and Refueling Points, or FARPs, which are sometimes necessary to supply short range attack rotorcraft in support of V-22 operations. Without the need for FARPs, V-22s can be launched more frequently, and on shorter notice.”

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • Uncle Bill

    Why was this done as an afterthought? Cannot comprehend.

    • Fred

      Probably because its rotors are incredibly wide and there’s thus not a lot of room for munitions fireable when they’re in the “flight position.”
      An escort variant would be interesting for sure, but I wonder how effective it might be… Certainly better than a slower Cobra or Apache lagging miles behind or nothing for that matter, I suppose.

    • Lurker

      I’d guess that it’s at least partly due to the fact that these sort of tiny, micro sized munitions like the Griffin and APKWS didn’t exist until after the Osprey entered production and service. When the Osprey was being designed in the 80s and 90s the only weapons available (like the Hellfire) were probably too large to be practically fit on the aircraft in a way that wouldn’t interfere with the big rotors as noted by Fred.

    • commenter

      At it’s core, it’s a small cargo plane that can land/take off vertically. Cargo planes don’t typically have much armament, if any.

      There isn’t much room (physical space or takeoff weight) to add them either.

      • DickG

        “Cargo planes don’t typically have much armament, if any.”
        .
        Like the AC-130?

    • John Mahutga

      Lack of fore thought of course, but like the Vietnam era, first came the UH-1 Huey and then the AH-1 Cobra as the need became apparent. But then again they should have learned from the past.

    • tmb2

      If they tested weapons on it during its development, we’d still be testing it rather than seeing it out in the fleet.

    • SpartanLineage

      The requirements for this platform were set by the program management office. Those requirements have to get funded and funding comes from Congress. If you tried to ask for it all in one request, more than likely it would not have been built at all.

  • Dylan

    Transport aircraft have traditionally rarely had anything beyond pintle mounts in side doors or on the rear ramp. In the past, variants designed and tested after these aircraft were put into service have introduced a variety of armament packages. I think we’ll be seeing more and more V-22’s built or modified with offensive weapons packages in the coming years. The airframe can certainly support it!

  • royrdsjr

    The Marine Corps HAD an escort aircraft,the OV-10 Bronco,but in their infinite wisdom,they retired them & then sold them all to Latin American nations.

    • d. kellogg

      I liked the configuration of the Broncos equipped with the NOGS package, and the proposed OV-10X had promise (albeit more of a brushfire wars escort than an A-10 surrogate the USMC lacks).
      But a key point of contention for ANY fixed wing CAS asset for USMC consideration is that,
      even if we CAN build a STOL design suitable for flatdeck flight ops (no catapults on these amphibs), the provisions needed to free up space inside the ships to support fixed wing aviation will severely cut into the numbers of helicopters the ships were designed to deploy in the first place.
      Is it worth it for an LPD/LPH to lose a third or half its helo capabilities for the sake of fixed wing aircraft mostly suited to fighting adversaries that lack near peer air defenses?

      • royrdsjr

        I don’t know if the OV-10 has ever been on an aircraft carrier,I was thinking of the Broncos as an escort aircraft in situations when the Marines are on land like in Iraq & Afghanistan.

      • royrdsjr

        In your scenario,maybe a Harrier jet would be good enough as an escort aircraft.

  • Christopher

    This is long over due. An armed transport version should have been apart of the V-22 program since the beginning. The only real problem is that it will reduce the number of troops and supplies it can carry. They tried to give it 7.62 mm machine gun years ago with the Remote Guardian System.

    However a dedicated “attack” version however is pointless. As the Navy has already partnered with the Army in the Future Vertical Lift program.

  • Lance

    Doesn’t help this problem prone plane from crashing all the time though.

    • Kurt Montandon

      Seven crashes causing 42 fatalities … in 23 years.

      That’s actually pretty damned good.

  • mpower6428

    Where is the footage…?

  • oblatt22

    Area supression with a few point weapons. Just another thing the osprey does badly.

    The V-22 is designed around the fallacy that if it does everything badly, it is somehow good for something.

    • FormerDirtDart

      Yes, obviously the V-22 is a complete failure for the USMC, because according to your analysis, it has not yet shown the ability to perform a task, which the aircraft it replaced was never utilized for.

      • Mark

        /slapped lol chalk one up for FormerDirtDart

        That slap was so hard I’m feeling it.

  • blight_weroasdfl

    The most reliable real estate to mount weapons is on the fuselage forward of the rotors. You can see there are two small pods for it. Otherwise the Osprey will have people shooting out of side doors, but when rotors are in the vertical position it puts a big blind spot to the left and right. Amusingly this might not be a problem if the Osprey’s rotors are forward..what is the stall speed of an Osprey flying pylon turns with rotors forward?

  • David

    Stupid. The solution has already been available for a long time and its called an A-10 Warthog.

  • david

    Can A-10 be launched from LHA or LHD’s , NO so just shut the hell up…And keep your none NAVY and MARINE CORPS aircraft of those ships to….Go buy your own aircraft carriers, hell the French have two for sale…

    • Charles

      The A-10 most certainly cannot be launched from an LHA or LHD, but the Harriers and F-35B most certainly can (or will soon be able to).

      The only question, is why the LHA-6 class (USS America) wasn’t constructed with a ski-jump, which would allow either the Harriers (or F-35B’s) to take off with a more substantial fuel/ordnance load.

      Regardless, adding a new offensive/defensive capability to the Osprey air frame can only be viewed as a positive development.

      • Christopher

        Short sightedness of the LCS mafia. IMO They should have waited for the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System to become available. Power would not be problem if they built the America class with nuclear reactors like the CBO suggested.

    • Maxtrue

      You seriously think the V-22 should be an offensive rocket platform? Eventually the F-35B can pop up and fire. A-10s can launch from short and rough air strips and are far more serviceable and reliable than the V-22. Except for special ops, this concept doesn’t make sense.

      • d. kellogg

        Eh, you watched that whatever Bruce Willis Die Hard movie too many times, the one with the F-35B shooting the tractor trailer inside the higher overpasses.

        In its production configuration, there have been changes to what’s seen in that movie: the dorsal liftjet intake doors being a key one to save weight.
        As such, the F-35B is NOT going to be doing a lot of “viffing” (Vectoring In Forward Flight) like the British did with Harriers against the Argentinians in the Falklands and the USMC further refined (in practice training scenarios only but never got to utilize against real-life adversaries shooting back).
        The F-35B will not be getting any useful aerial combat advantage from its reaction control system either, which has been fine tuned for the VTOL operation, not in-flight combat maneuvering.

        Could it be tuned for ACM in the future?
        Possibly, provided one is willing to tolerate the added sticker shock for that customer option.

  • sofol

    Think OUTSIDE of the box. This is my solution. Step 1. If possible. mount 30mm cannons-from the Apache in the hull-1 on each side forward. Step2. mount 2 30mm 1 on each side-outside of the aircraft. Step 3. Create 2rectangular, retractable, reloadable missile racks to go thru the floor holding 8 missiles each,.one rack for smaller missiles, and one for anti armor. The flight engineer can reload as needed. Carrying this reduces the cargo capacity,-but this gunship could carry a smaller load, and be an escort.

    • Jeff

      Originally the program was budgeted to get a nose gun cross compatible with a cobra. I agree that it should have at least that much.

      • d. kellogg

        For the underbelly volume (externally and internally) the Apache’s M230 gun system takes (but not the large magazine capacity of the Apache), the 30mm Chain Gun could certainly be mounted to the belly of an Osprey in the same area (pocket?) that the 7.62mm minigun was trialled to fit into. Granted, there won’t be room for any decent magazine capacity of 30mm rounds without protruding into the cargo area, but then again we’re not designing a gunship-only variant armed to the teeth for extended suppression and defense of troop-carrying Ospreys.
        Having cannon-caliber guns might create the undesireable outcome of pilots actually wanting to get more hostile and involved in firefights, something these aircraft don’t need to be doing.

        • Lightingguy

          Agree.

          This aircraft “maybe” wants some beefed up suppresive fires capability for self defense but bottom line it’s mission is to get the troops on the ground, get away and get back for the pickup. They do not want these aircraft hanging around and getting into slugging matches.

          I could however, see a special op’s variant that provided escort and gunship capabilities as escort. Expensive solution though.

        • JohnnyRanger

          I don’t see how an M230 would fit beneath a V-22 and still allow it to land, unless it was designed to retract into the fuselage. Not a lot of ground clearance there…

  • JLR

    WAs just thinking that sofol.
    The osprey needs the Apache cannon and its newest version of the fire control system /optics. Land troops then provide some CAS. Fly up to safe altitude for a refuel, grab the boys and head back to base.
    Apache cannon, 2 hellfires, and a pod of hydra/whatever’s. If the cargo load si light they can carry spares in back and reload on the ground just outside of the fighting area.

    • d. kellogg

      Seeing the various gunship modifications that filtered down thru the original UH-1 Huey family, it isn’t hard to envision, even considering the forward rotor clearance area of the Osprey, that some ingenious designs won’t surface for arming it.
      The Apache’s forward sensor assembly (weapons aiming and night vision) would take some redesign of the nose area of the Osprey and relocation of avionics components to do so, but again, we are not designing an outright gunship variant ($$$).

      To the lower outer underside edges of the Osprey’s side sponsons, limited traverse (downward, limited side/side) weapons systems similar to those original Huey gunship adaptations could be implemented.
      There again though, we’d be detracting from the cargo/troop role and pressing the aircraft and their crews to possibly go looking for trouble rather than evade from it.
      Suppressive fire to evac the area is one thing: intentionally getting into firefights offensively is entirely different.
      If we are so intent on a tiltrotor gunship, the smaller Bell tiltrotor offered to the civilian sector would be a better baseline airframe than conversion of a troop/cargo carrier for a dedicated gunship.

  • DangerMouse

    Picture the weapons package on Airwolf… Done. :)

  • Caesar Merlin

    digging the paint scheme. looks kind of sci fi ish

  • citanon

    And so that’s the story of how the Osprey shot off its own rotors……

    I know I know, they’ve sort of gotten around it. Still would give me heartburn if I was the project engineer.

  • Arthur Richthofen

    In late WW One, guns fired through the propeller disc, not hitting the blades. What is different about the Osprey – is the gun blast too powerful for the blades? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronization_gea

    • Christopher

      The recoil of a M3P(updated m2) would destroy the wings.
      There’s a huge difference between a WW1 7mm machine gun(a pee shooter compared to helicopter guns these days) and a modern 20mm autocannon.

    • blight_weroasdfl

      Since the Osprey is a tilt-rotor, if the rotors are in the vertical position guns can fire forward without synchronization problems. The unanswered question is whether the wings are engineered to take the vibration and fatigue associated with mounting a weapon and firing it for extended periods of time.

  • Eric

    The problem with first generation aircrafts and put it in full operation status to see if the theory’s in designs to meet the basic minimum mission requirements that it can fly safely from point A to Point B, their will always be challenge to please and implement everybody new or current types of weapons systems after the fact that the airframes will have initial physical and aeronautical limitations. in all; most of the US essential aircrafts and helicopter’s programs will takes years if not decades in types of technology improvements as it evolves, eventually the air frame becomes so old it will not be feasible to keep this up, mostly in costs and politics and eventually it became major assets and or game changer in combat and peace time operations.

  • richardparker

    I would say V-22 Osprey is a unique helicopter with multimission ability. This article says that,it is a tilt-rotor aircraft, with powerful Rolls-Royce engines whose nacelle can be rotated to convert the aircraft into a turboprop plane. The engines develop a power of 6,150shp each.

    Source: http://www.aerospace-technology.com/features/feat

  • TCTanker

    The real problem with this transport is that unlike traditional rotary wing aircraft, the sides of the Osprey are blinded by the tilt rotor nacelle. A forward firing gun is nice but ground support is not the Osprey’s role – that is the job of the Cobra. Having served as a Marine in Vietnam, side guns are far more important than forward facing fixed guns. The bird needs side protection when coming into a hot LZ not only to protect itself but to support the grunts streaming out of the rear and to keep the enemy’s heads down. This bird is not designed with real world experiences of past wars; they will not all be in the desert.

    • blight_weroasdfl

      Putting two gun-ports (similar to the FPW) on the sides of the Osprey where the portals are would deliver adequate side coverage, but at great cost. They would have to be traverse locked to prevent damage to the rotors. In vertical mode they would not be able to fire anywhere near the the center to prevent engine damage. When rotors are forward, the forward-most window would only have a view of the engines, and would be a poor place to put a weapon.