V-22 Osprey - A Novel Technological Breakthrough in Aviation

The United States Marine Corps is an avid fan of technological breakthroughs and acquiring their new V-22 Osprey is just one indicator that this character is still burning strong. V-22 Osprey belongs to the latest generation of VSTOL (vertical short takeoff and landing) aircraft. Its tilt/rotor technology is a pioneer in military aviation. The VSTOL designation means that an Osprey has turboshaft engines mounted on the very ends f the forward wings, allowing it to fly like a conventional prop forward aircraft but can also do a 90-degree swivel to land and hover like a helicopter.

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This means greater flexibility for commanders in battlefields. The aircraft can take off and land vertically during deployments of troops and supplies. In general, the technology is similar to that used by AV-8 Harrier jets, also employed by the USMC, but using a jet engine instead. The V-22s will replace the Vietnam-era vintage CH-46 and CH-53 medium lift choppers.


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However, just like any new aircraft out of production line and mainly untested in fields of battle, the development of Osprey was plagued by glitches. This technological breakthrough in aviation is a pioneering project and is expected to encounter red tape and failures along the line. The loss of 26 Marines and 4 civilians recently is considered the most noteworthy failure in a series of minor glitches in Osprey's development. Other delays for the project are government-related stuff like lack of parts, logistics, false alarms, system failures, etc. The USMC corps is however undeterred and after 20 years in development, the V-22 is about to pay off big time with a safer, faster, and a very reliable combat transport.
The V-22 was finally tested in March 2007. The first batch of these planes was delivered to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 at New River, North Carolina. Initial shipment to USMC is at 360 units. The Navy also ordered about 48 and 50 for the Air Force.
The Osprey has since then taken on lead roles in many blockbuster movies such as Transformers, helping further spread its impressive appearance. Its technical specifications however, are just as impressive as well. This plane is powered by twin 6,150-shaft horsepower turboshaft that drive a 38' diameter three-blade proprotor at 47,500 pounds each. The engines are connected by a shaft that provides continuous lift and power if one engine fails.
The Osprey was also designed to carry an additional external weight of 10,000 pounds for shorter hauls. Two pilots are going to fly this aircraft and to carry it to combat. 24 Marines plus their organic equipment can be transported at one time. It can be refueled in mid-air and so has great potential for worldwide deployment. The fuselage was designed to take on hits and withstand battle damage with graphite-reinforced epoxy composite, to make it lighter. As expected of military aircraft, the Osprey has redundant flight control, hydraulic, and electrical systems.

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