The Air Force and Marine Corps have for years envisioned future V-22 weapons to better aid special operators moving into and out of hostile territory aboard the tilt-rotor aircraft.
The list may now include lasers.
“Think traditional rockets and guns,” John “Bones” Parker, Tiltrotor Business Development manager for Boeing Co. and a former Marine aviator, told Military.com on Tuesday. “But [the services] have said, ‘Anything new, we’ll entertain’ — so you can think [lasers] and even … non-lethal-type weapons, like sonic waves or sound waves.”
Parker told reporters during a Boeing media event at the company’s facilities outside Washington, D.C., that officials have tested “forward firing weapons systems mounted [on] the fuselage” such as precision-guided 2.75-inch rockets, and the tube-launched AGM-176 Griffin missile “to demonstrate that the V-22 can fire both in the forward fight … and also 60 degrees.”
“That would include a forward-firing gun, large caliber on the turret, precision-guided munitions out the front, out the back and out the hell-hole,” or in the hatch under the fuselage, he said.
In 2015, the Marine Corps tested a non-explosive version of the Griffin missile on the MV-22. It traveled about 4.5 miles, according to Marine Corps Times. The Air Force flies the CV-22.
The Bell-Boeing-built V-22 has the possibility of such capabilities, but Parker said the configuration differences between the variants are significant. Of the 300 or so V-22s already flying, there are about 75 different configurations per platform.
The goal is to standardize, he said but didn’t elaborate.
Whether lasers could enhance munitions, Parker reiterated, “It’s not a program of record yet, but it is something on the drawing board.”
Meanwhile, the Navy‘s V-22 program is on track to eventually produce 48 aircraft for the sea service, Parker said.
“The requirement was always there,” he said.
The Navy has since determined it only needs 44 of the aircraft, dubbed CMV-22 and designed to replace the C-2A Greyhound for carrier onboard delivery.
Last year, Naval Air Systems Command awarded a joint venture between Textron’s Bell subsidiary and Boeing a $151 million contract to begin engineering on its variant.
The main difference in the CMV-22 from its sister aircraft is the fuel capacity it will need to carry for the distances traveled, Parker said. “And some systems in the back to facilitate getting passengers on and off, and a couple different radio systems,” he said.
Over the next two years, the firms plan to develop the fuselage in Boeing’s Philadelphia plant and wings at Bell’s Amarillo, Texas, facility, he said.
Parker said the CMV-22’s delivery will likely be in the early 2020s, after systems integration and testing.
The V-22 program’s “production line is hot and it’s going to stay hot and stay running,” he said. Boeing is hoping to expand the V-22 market in international sales.
In 2015, Bell-Boeing was awarded a contract to produce five Ospreys through a Navy foreign military sales contract for Japan, marking the first foreign sale of the tilt-rotor aircraft.