The maker of the Osprey, Bell Boeing, just took a major step to change that. The company said Monday it has successfully fired forward-facing rockets from a pod mounted to the aircraft’s side. The testing was carried out in November at the U.S. Army Proving Ground in Yuma, Ariz., and showed “the V-22 can be armed with a variety of forward-facing munitions, and can hit their targets with a high degree of reliability,” said Vince Tobin, Bell Boeing’s vice president and program manager for the V-22.
The company released the video above along with several photos of the rockets getting fired from an MV-22 Osprey used by Marines:
Rockets have been fired from helicopters like the Cobra and Huey for years, carrying out airstrikes and providing firepower to combat troops caught in firefights on the ground. The Osprey frequently flies in formation with attack helicopters and is often used to swoop in and drop off or pick up troops in combat. Speed is typically its biggest asset — with “tilt-rotor” propellers that rotate forward, it can land like a helicopter, but transition in the air to fly more quickly like an airplane and get out of harm’s way faster.
Tobin said the installation of rockets will reduce the Osprey’s reliance on short-range attack aircraft and the “forward arming and refueling points” they need.
“Without the need for FARPs,” Tobin said, “V-22s can be launched more frequently, and on shorter notice.”
The Marine Corps has more than 240 Ospreys, and has flown them in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, among other locations. Air Force Special Operations Command has more than 40 of them, Bell Boeing said.