JAPAN HAS become the first export customer to place a firm order for the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. A $332.5 million Foreign Military Sales contract was awarded to the Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office yesterday, July 14, by US Naval Air Systems Command for purchase of five V-22Bs in Block C configuration for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
Japan had been seriously considering the type for several years before finallygiving the go-ahead for purchase of an eventual 17 of the type as part of its five-year defence plan, which was approved by the Cabinet on December 17, 2013. The US Defense Security Co-operation Agency (DSCA) subsequently announced on May 5 this year that US State Department approval for the sale had been granted and Congress was also formally notified of the planned deal at the same time. The DSCA gave the total value of the purchase, including all 17 Ospreys, plus training, spares, equipment and logistical support, as $3 billion.
Yesterday’s order is for the first five of these 17, which will be used for humanitarian and disaster relief missions, together with amphibious support operations. The initial contract includes support, training, and equipment. Alan Warnes