SINGAPORE — The one-of-a-kind MV-22 Osprey has become a familiar sight wherever US Marines are operating. The US Air Force operates CV-22s for special forces, and the US Navy last year chose the bird as the replacement aircraft in the carrier-onboard-delivery (COD) role, with plans to buy 44 Ospreys.
Japan in 2015 announced a deal for up to 17 aircraft, becoming the first international customer. Japan's Ospreys will be similar to US Marine Corps MV-22s, with Japanese communications systems.
But with nearly 300 Ospreys in service, it may be the COD version that produces the next international sale.
"We look at countries with forces similar to US forces" as potential customers for the Osprey, Boeing's John Parker said here.
"So for example the Navy COD — we look around to other countries with carrier battle groups," he said. Such countries might like the "kind of long-range flexible logistics resupport" the Osprey offers.
While Boeing officials would not mention specific customers, countries that operate carriers or carrier-like ships include France, Italy and Japan, and Britain will soon field two large carriers.
Another tie-in, Parker said, is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
"We can carry the F-35B power modules," he pointed out, necessary to resupply US Marine Corps short-takeoff-vertical-landing versions. "Countries that are going to fly the F-35B intended for shipboard use would be good candidates for having V-22."
Other potential Osprey customers, Parker said, could be "countries with large landmass needing to move people and material rapidly from one part to another where there's little or no infrastructure."
The US government, Parker added, "is already in discussion with other countries — especially naval forces" about potential Osprey sales.
Rick Lemaster, director of global sales and marketing for Boeing vertical lift, showcased the company's vertical lift catalog, including H-47 Chinook troop-carrying helicopters, AH-64 Apache attack helos, and AH-6 light attack/reconnaissance helicopters. Chinooks and Apaches are used by a large number of countries, and Lemaster noted "there is international interest" in the AH-6.
Current orders carry Boeing vertical lift production into the mid-2020s, he said, and the company is offering long-term support plans.
"We expect our customers to be flying these aircraft to 2060 and beyond," he said.