The Marines are aiming to make their MV-22 Ospreys more lethal and faster, the service's top aviator said Monday.
The Marine Corps is testing a variety of weapons and sensors on its tiltrotor aircraft in order to get the most out of the platform, said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation.
"We're looking at the same kinds of systems as you'd find in the UH-1Y [Venom and AH-1] Cobras," he said during a panel discussion at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space conference outside Washington.
Those helicopters are often equipped with mounted guns and missile launchers.
The Hellfire missile — the mainstay of the Navy's SH-60 Seahawk and Knighthawk helicopters — is being looked at for the Osprey, Davis said. Additionally, he said the laser-guided GBU-44/B Viper Strike bomb and the lightweight AGM-176 Griffin, which can be fired as a missile or deployed as a guided bomb, are also being considered.
So far, Davis said they've tested a laser-guided designator in the Osprey's nose and different munitions that can be loaded onto the aircraft.
The Marine Corps' 2015 aviation plan called for outfitting Ospreys with "enhanced weapon systems" to increase standoff and precision capabilities. The plan stated that Marine crisis response units, like the land-based forces that respond to emergencies in Africa and the Middle East, would use the armed V-22s. Those units have provided security support and evacuation assistance at embassies in Iraq, South Sudan and Libya.
The aircraft, that can take off and land like a helicopter and fly like a plane, is one of the busiest in the service.
Davis acknowledged that getting the air crew to run a weapon systems while flying the aircraft could be an added burden, but added that Marines would adapt quickly.
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.