Taking a Shot at the V-22

There were two reported cases of MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft taking hostile fire during their seven-month tour in Iraq that just concluded, according to Marine Corps officials. One attack involved small arms fire, while the second dealt with a rocket, Lt. Col. Paul Rock, commander of Marine Medium Lift Squadron 263, told reporters May 2 during a Pentagon briefing (see above). Both attacks missed. “For both those instances, we were already moving fast,” Rock said. The Osprey carries a small caliber gun on its rear ramp, but the gun cannot be effectively employed at the speeds that the aircraft flies when in “airplane mode” with its rotors forward, he said. Accordingly, the Marines and US Special Operations Command, which will operate the Air Force’s CV-22 Osprey variant, are working on adding a 360-degree gun underneath the aircraft’s belly for improved self-defense lethality. Lt. Gen. George Trautman, deputy commandant for Marine Corps aviation, said work on the belly-mounted gun is progressing. “We’ve wanted an all-quadrant weapon on this for a long time,” he said. “It’s hard to do.” The Cobra attack helicopter is the Marine’s only helicopter with a fixed forward-firing gun today. Trautman said, if testing goes well, the plan is to deploy CV-22s with the gun system in the fall.