Mitch Snyder

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey continues to draw an international crowd.

The U.S. is increasingly investing in the V-22, with a five-year, $6 billion contract for 99 tiltrotor aircraft. Is international interest growing?

We are hearing from militaries worldwide excited about the V-22 Osprey and its capabilities. Bell Helicopter has an active presence in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific-that's where the biggest interest is and it is why we put offices there. International customers are proactively coming to us, asking specifically about vertical lift capabilities and aircraft availability.

The V-22 Osprey has proven itself capable in various missions, such as search and rescue, correct?

The V-22 has been instrumental in disaster relief missions. The U.S. military used V-22 to provide relief in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 and, most recently, in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.

We are seeing a growing need for vertical lift aircraft, a need for what you are seeing the V-22 do in the Philippines and what the Osprey did in Haiti. In addition to the protection of country, we're seeing lots of search and rescue (SAR) performed now with the V-22 and helicopters.

The V-22 can immediately take off and go help when there is a disaster.

Why is the V-22 well suited to SAR?

In the past, militaries would have to use large, fixed-wing aircraft to bring supplies; but, in areas such as Asia-Pacific, there aren't too many places to land. When lacking a sufficient runway, militaries and others would often fly helicopters, but you have to get them there; they often can't make it over long ranges. The V-22 Osprey tiltrotor can go by itself. You don't need ships to bring them in. The V-22 can self-deploy.

Even when the military has used a C-130 fixed-wing aircraft to search, when they find them, they need a V-22, or a helicopter if within range, to get them. With the V-22, you can search AND rescue; search and then go get them without a prepared landing surface. The V-22 is adept at setting down in remote areas. It doesn't matter that there's no runway.

So a tiltrotor delivers the best of both worlds-the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft and vertical lift functionality of a helicopter?

The V-22 can get there as fast as a turboprop, and its vertical lift capabilities take it anywhere people need help. Usually within 24 hours, V-22s are there. It's amazing to see. The U.S. Marine Corps responded within a 24-hour window, with four V-22s (and ultimately 12 V-22s) traveling more than 1,000 miles.

When runways are down amidst lots of damage, the V-22 can get there fast, land virtually anywhere, deliver much-needed supplies and relief workers, and transport people who are hurt. If someone is hurt, the V-22 goes so fast that it can get there and back within the "golden hour" to save lives. I think of it as delivering hope. When people are in desperate need of help and see the military tiltrotors coming, they're delivering hope.


BIO:

NAME:Mitch Snyder
TITLE:Executive Vice President, Military Aircraft Programs
CO.:Bell Helicopter, a Textron company
ROLE: Manufacturing a wide range of civil and military helicopters and tiltrotor craft
CONTACT: www.bellhelicopter.com


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Mil & Aero Magazine

February 2014
Volume 25, Issue 2
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