US Navy is moving ahead with plan to order 44 V-22 Ospreys to be assembled in Amarillo by Bell Helicopter in partnership with Boeing.
The overall contract value is estimated at $3.81 billion, based on a fiscal year 2018 flyaway cost of $86.8 million per Osprey, the company announced in its press release last week.
The Navy plans to request the first eight aircraft in fiscal year 2018, and the contract is expected to begin in the January-March time frame of 2019, according to information from House Armed Services Committee staff and the Navy.
The Navy will begin to build the new aircraft after they are authorized and appropriated in the fiscal year 2018 budget. The Navy expects to procure the aircraft from 2019 through 2024. The first eight are scheduled to be delivered in 2020.
The composites and rotor blades will be manufactured for the aircraft in Fort Worth. The wings and nacelles, which house the engines and other components, will be assembled in Amarillo. The cabin bodies will be made by Boeing in Philadelphia and shipped to Amarillo for final assembly.
“The final assembly, flight test and delivery are completed in Amarillo. There will be no change to this approach,” said Navy spokesman Billy Ray Brown.
Brown said the Navy is now in the beginning stages of planning. This fiscal year the Navy plans to implement engineering modifications to incorporate engineering changes needed to incorporate new systems required for the new Osprey variant.
The Navy chose the V-22 because it already had an established V-22 program and the V-22 represents a “long-term solution with the least risk and best value,” according to information from the Navy. The program also would take advantage of existing infrastructure and reduced engineering costs.
Last month, U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said the Osprey would make a good fit for Navy shipboard operations.
The Navy Osprey, dubbed the HV-22, will differ from the Marine Corps MV-22. The HV-22 will feature an external fuel tank, different communications and navigation capabilities, high frequency radios, a shipboard landing system and a public address system. The HV-22 is expected to replace the C-2A Greyhound, a turboprop aircraft.
Bell Helicopter, which assembles the V-22 and two types of helicopters in Amarillo, laid off five Amarillo employees Tuesday as part of more than 300 layoffs at facilities in Fort Worth and elsewhere, a Bell spokeswoman said.
The move came amid a softening commercial helicopter market and dwindling Osprey orders, Bell officials said. This year, Bell plans to deliver 25 Ospreys to the military.