The V-22 Osprey is a multi-mission military tiltrotor made by Bell Helicopter and Boeing Rotorcraft Systems for the US Military. It first took flight in 1989 and was introduced in 2007.
The need expressed by the US Department of Defence was for a new type of aircraft that could take off and land vertically. At the same time it needed to act as a troop transport at speed.
The Osprey was designed to take advantage of properties advantageous to both fixed-wing and rotorcraft. It is capable of both vertical takeoff or takeoff from very short landing strips. While in forward flight it benefits from the range and stability of fixed-wing aircraft.
This lead to the JVX or “Joint-service VTOL Experimental” aircraft.
The JVX was later designated as the Osprey we know today. It has fixed wings with tilting nacelles on either side.
The Osprey is the world’s first production tiltrotor and each nacelle sports a three-bladed rotor. Each powered by a Rolls-Royce AE 1107C engine. However, the military is seeking a drop-in replacement for this engine given several problems with it.
In the case of engine failure, both rotors can be driven by just one engine through the drive shaft system. However, hovering with one engine is not possible in most cases. The Osprey also does not have effective autorotation characteristics.
The Osprey had a rocky development process with many setbacks and at least two votes to cancel the project. These were overruled and today more than 200 V-22s have been built.
The aircraft remains controversial however due to concerns about the design’s safety, inflated price and several technical glitches that have cropped up over the years. Yet it remains one of the most effective craft in service of the US Marines and to date only has one fatal accident on record, making it one of the safest craft the USMC have ever used.