If you have ever seen any of the movies in the ‘Transformers’ series, then you might just expect to see V-22 Osprey aircraft morph into a robot and start talking after it lands. It is that crazy and futuristic looking, for sure. It is part turboprop engine airplane and part helicopter, and it is as multifunctional as any aircraft in the US Military arsenal. Once it got its safety kinks worked out, and believe me that took a long time, it has proven to be a highly effective aircraft in the US Military inventory. Now, a company in Italy is looking to get in on the action by making a smaller version of the Osprey that has both military and civilian applications.
As was previously mentioned, the Osprey design was not without its problems. As a matter of fact, the program was often on the chopping block because of safety concerns and multiple cost overruns. The military actually had formally canceled the development of the aircraft, but increased funding and backing by Congress kept it going forward full steam ahead. It took a long time to get the aircraft developed and into the different services inventories; the V-22’s experimental design began way back in 1981 and the aircraft’s first prototypes were not put into production until 1989. The aircraft finally went into full production in 2005 and it was deployed in a war zone for the first time in Iraq in April of 2007, some 26 years after the aircraft went to the design table.
So why would an Italian company, AgustaWestland, be interested in developing an aircraft similar to the Osprey, which was plagued by cost overruns, design flaws, production delays and skyrocketing costs? The answer is because once these things were worked out, the Osprey has proven to be one of the safest, most useful and multi-functional aircraft in the US inventory. Not only that, but AgustaWestland sees a significant sales opportunity in the private sector for such potential customers as oil companies (they are perfect for flying and landing on rigs) and other companies that require access to remote sites that don’t have runways. It is a big advantage in those situations to use aircraft that can take off and land as helicopters.
AgustaWestland’s version of a tilt rotor aircraft (designated the AW609) has actually been in the design stages for a while now. They were smart to initially partner with Bell Aircraft, which is one of the co-designers and producers of the V-22 Osprey. Bell has since left the project.
The Italian Army and Navy are said to be really pushing AgustaWestland hard to continue forward with the design and then prototype production. The Italian Army and Navy see this future tilt-rotor aircraft as significantly upgrading their capability in such areas as search and rescue, special operations and movement of troops and supplies. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and if another tilt-rotor aircraft enters another military’s inventory.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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