One of the three Osprey assigned to the 418th
at Edwards prepares for takeoff.
Photo: Jason Hernandez
10/1/2007 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, CA. -- The CV-22
Integrated Test Team marked the conclusion of
developmental flight testing of the CV-22 Osprey
during a farewell event at the 418th Flight Test
Squadron here, Sept. 26.
The CV-22 program is now graduating from
developmental testing to the operational test phase,
which will be held at Hurlburt Field, Fla., in
In the operational test phase, the users will
evaluate the aircraft and systems in a
mission-representative environment over the next six
to nine months.
The CV-22 ITT was established in 2000 with members of
Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Naval Air Systems Command,
United States Marine Corps, Air Force Materiel
Command, Air Force Special Operations Command and the
Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center.
The test team started in 2002 with two of the
tilt-rotor aircraft with the task of developing the
CV-22's unique systems, said Steve Sisterman, CV-22
"Edwards was selected as the test site for the CV-22
because of the unique surrounding environment, terrain
features and the test ranges and facilities in the
local area," he said.
After the period of modifications and ground testing
at the Benefield Anechoic Facility, flight testing
began in September 2002, Mr. Sisterman said.
"We then added a third aircraft in February of 2005,"
he said. "Together, these three aircraft have flown
about 2,000 flight hours in support of the CV-22 test
program. In those 2,000 hours, we have met all of our
test objectives and goals."
One of the test team's primary focuses was evaluating
design changes made to the aircraft, said Maj. Steve
Grace, CV-22 ITT government flight test director.
"The Marines had some difficulties with their
aircraft a number of years ago," he said. "As a
result, design changes were made to the hydraulic
system throughout the aircraft. Also, there were
changes to the warnings and cautions transmitted to
the pilots in order to provide them with a better
account for dynamic changes in the flight path."
The Marines tested many of the early design changes
on their aircraft at Patuxent River Naval Air Station,
Md., which were implemented on the CV-22's here, Major
"Our focus is not only on safe flight, but on the
safe operation of the systems, which make up the
special operations mission," he said.
One of the testers' concerns was whether the
terrain-following radar would give the crew confidence
in the terrain profiles that they are flying towards,
Major Grace said.
"Our results have shown that the crews do have that
confidence," he said. "The system works very well and
provides a substantial capability to the pilots that
will be very valuable as they go into missions."
Major Grace said design changes to the aircraft have
made the CV-22 a substantially different and improved
aircraft than it was in 2000.
"We also did work with the basic flying qualities of
the aircraft," he said. "There were some issues at low
speed that the pilots wanted tweaked. We coordinated
with the Marines and made changes to the aircraft's
control system to make the CV-22 and MV-22 better
The CV-22 and the MV-22 are different variations of
the same basic aircraft, Major Grace said. The Marines
will take delivery of 350 MV-22s and the Air Force
will receive 50 CV-22's.
The CV-22 includes the same components of the Marine
version as well as additional features specific to the
Air Force mission, he said.
"The first difference is the terrain-following radar,
which is a cylindrical feature projecting from the
nose," Major Grace said. "That allows the special
operations pilots to ingress and egress in hostile
areas at a substantially lower altitude."
The radar looks out in front of the aircraft and
makes sure there is adequate clearance from hills and
mountains while allowing the crews to stay close to
the ground, he said. The aircraft was tested as close
as 200 feet over mountainous terrain.
Another significant difference between the CV-22 and
MV-22 is the electronic warfare systems, Major Grace
"The CV-22 has a self protection radio jammer and
infrared jammer that allows us to have additional
survivability against surface to air threats," he
said. "Finally, the aircraft has some additional
avionics capability such as two radios for better
communications with the ground and a dual digital map
Now that developmental testing is complete, the CV-22
test site at Edwards is being closed down. The CV-22
is scheduled to enter operational service with AFSOC
The CV-22 represents an important technology jump,
said Gary Matlin, CV-22 ITT deputy director.
"We are very much enamored with what we have done
with the CV-22 here," Mr. Matlin said. "We appreciate
the cooperation we received from everyone."
Source: USAF Edwards AFB Press Release by Senior
Airman Jason Hernandez