PATUXENT RIVER, Md. –
Forty years ago, the Department of Navy (DoN) took control of what is now known as the V-22 Joint Program Office, responsible for the cradle-to-grave acquisition, sustainment, development and production of the venerable tiltrotor aircraft.
With more than 700,000 flight hours under its articulating halos, the V-22 Osprey is a military marvel, providing unmatched capabilities to the U.S. Marines, Navy, Air Force and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
“Not a single flight hour, from the first to most recent, would have been possible without the leadership, innovation and partnerships developed in this joint program office,” said Col. Brian Taylor, program manager. “As the 13th leader in this role, I walked through the door to a well-established and exceptional team, cross collaborating to ensure the V-22 remains ready, reliable, relevant and safe through the 2050s.”
Following the failure of Operation Eagle Claw in 1980—the attempted and then aborted mission to rescue 53 U.S. embassy staff members in Tehran, Iran—the Defense Department saw the need for an aircraft that could support long-range, high-speed missions utilizing vertical take-offs and landings. As a result, the department initiated the establishment of the advanced vertical lift program.
In December 1982, executive leaders transferred the newly formed program, originally led by the Army, to the DoN and established the Joint Services Advanced Vertical Lift (JVX) program. A few years later, it would become the V-22 Osprey program.
As a first of its kind, the V-22 came with a complex development and testing program, integrating unprecedented technology and propulsion elements. Following first flight in 1989, the development program continued to refine the design with the Marine Corps variant, MV-22, beginning operation in 2000 and fielding in 2007. Not long after, in 2009, the Air Force declared Initial Operating Capability for its variant, the CV-22.
Over the last 10 years, the V-22’s aperture widened, welcoming the U.S. Navy (CMV-22B) and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force to its portfolio, increasing the aircraft’s global impact. Today, the Osprey’s mission has grown and includes medium-lift assault support, long-range infiltration/exfiltration, at-sea cargo resupply, combat logistics, medical evacuation, and more.
By acknowledging the operational success of the V-22, the program also recognizes the challenges and adversity faced throughout its development, all providing the lessons and experience required to build and maintain the aircraft’s relevance for decades to come.
“The warfighters who fly, maintain and rely on the aircraft deserve nothing less,” Taylor said. “As a program, we keep those lost during mishaps in our memory; their sacrifice to this nation cannot be overstated.”
As a joint program office, it works with representatives from all service branches and its international partner, Japan, that fly and maintain the aircraft. In addition, it works closely with its industry partners, from original equipment manufacturers Bell-Boeing, Rolls-Royce and Raytheon to the hundreds of suppliers keeping the aircraft flying. Keeping these partnerships strong, both within the Defense Department and industry, ensures that all V-22 stakeholders are informed and ready to work together on all aspects of the program, from emergent to day-to-day tasks.
“For example, during the recent CV-22 safety standdown as a result of hard clutch engagement (HCE) events, the joint program and industry quickly came together and partnered with AFSOC (Air Force Special Operations Command) to establish a way forward,” Taylor said. “Within a matter of days, an action plan was established, resulting in execution of advanced training and adjusted flying parameters across the customer base, contributing to AFSOC’s decision to put the CV-22 back into flight.”
The V-22 user community, from all branches of service, continue to work closely together with the common goal of finding the root cause of HCE incidents and options to mitigate the phenomenon.
“The V-22 is one of the most complex aircraft in the world; the joint team, both government and industry, responsible for its development and sustainment, is committed to ensuring our aircrews have the safest, most reliable platform possible,” Taylor said. “We will always challenge ourselves to make the Osprey better, every day.”
With a service life through the 2050s, the program office will continue its mission for decades to come.
From the V-22 Joint Program Office.