CV-22 Delivered to Air Force

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, NM -- A new chapter in Air Force special operations aviation opened today as the first operational CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft was delivered to Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. 

The revolutionary aircraft was flown from the test wing at Edwards AFB, Calif., by Lt. Gen. Michael W. Wooley, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, to the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland. The 58th SOW provides advanced training to Air Force special operations pilots and aircrews. 

"The CV-22 has the capability to fly at turboprop speeds like a C-130, pull into helicopter mode and land like an MH-53 Pave Low," said Gen. Wooley. "This is truly transformational for Air Force Special Operations Command." 

The CV-22 Osprey is a special operations variant of the MV-22, currently in operational use with the Marines. The aircraft has the unique ability to take off, land and hover like a helicopter and it can tilt its propellers to fly like a conventional, prop-driven aircraft. 

This dual capability gives the CV-22 extended range, speed and versatility over any other AFSOC aircraft. The extended range and speed will enable the Air Force to conduct long-range infiltration and exfiltration missions in a single period of darkness. The CV-22 and MV-22 are about 85 percent common; the differences existing mainly in the avionics needed for special operations missions. 

The 58th SOW is scheduled to receive four CV-22s by the end of June. The first operational CV-22 unit will operate out of Hurlburt Field, Fla., starting in 2007. 

The initial pilot training includes 400 hours of interactive computer-based training, 60 simulator hours and 40 flying hours in the MV-22 version of the Osprey. This will be followed by CV-22 mission-specific training for AFSOC pilots and flight engineers at Kirtland. 

Through the use of live fire testing, the Osprey has proven to be four to eight times less vulnerable to enemy fire than current aircraft. It is 75 percent quieter, can fly higher and has one-tenth the infrared signature than most rotary aircraft. 

The current fly-away cost of a CV-22 is $89.1 million. However, cost reduction initiatives and a multi-year procurement contract is expected to reduce that price by a significant margin. 

The Air Force plans on buying 50 CV-22s from now until 2017.