The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey recently completed an initial aerial refueling test flight with an F/A-18C and an F/A-18D Hornet. The test flight, conducted in late August, served as a proof of concept and a reinforcement of the idea that the V-22 can be multifunctional. The multifunctional ability of the V-22 is a point of emphasis for Bell and Boeing as they continue to make the case that the V-22 would be the perfect replacement for the C-2A Greyhound for the U.S. Navy‘s carrier onboard delivery (COD) mission. “Adding aerial refueling tanker capability to the V-22 will enable operators to execute a wider variety of missions with greater flexibility and autonomy,” said Vince Tobin, Bell Boeing V-22 program director. “This will save time and money by maximizing the efficient use of aircraft and personnel,” Tobin added.
The flight over north Texas deployed a prototype aerial refueling system that involved holding steady and retracting the refueling drogue as the F/A-18C and F/A-18D flew just behind and to the side of the V-22. Future testing is planned that will involve having a an aircraft fly in the fuel-receiving position behind the V-22, connect an aircraft with the refueling drogue inflight, and ultimately the aerial refueling of aircraft.