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Friday March 24, 2000

SOCOM moves ahead on block upgrade program for CV-22

( Boeing Company Press Release ) - The U.S. Navy, on behalf of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), awarded Bell-Boeing a modification to the existing EMD contract initiating the first phase of a pre-planned product improvement program for the CV-22.

The Block 10 program, as it’s known, will add eight new features to the Special Operations Forces CV-22s, of which five aircraft will be delivered to Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) in 2003.

“This represents the next step in providing our AFSOC customer with the full capability they need to execute the special ops mission,” according to Steve Blewitt, CV-22 Program Manager at Boeing.

The upgrade includes an advanced directed infrared countermeasures system (DIRCM) as well as upgrades to the cockpit and cabin to provide improvements to crew and passenger convenience and provide better situational awareness. Block 10 will also double the capacity of the forward firing flare and chaff dispenser and add laser detection. The DIRCM system will utilize advanced infrared sensor and two turreted lasers to confuse infrared missiles – drawing them off their target.

In the cockpit, Block 10 will relocate and add two control panels and provide a specialized information display so the flight engineer can more easily control the non-piloting functions of the aircraft. In addition, the digital map will be upgraded to allow each pilot to view different locations on the map, so that one pilot can be performing route planning further along in the mission and the other can be monitoring local threats and terrain while flying the aircraft.

In the cabin, Block 10 adds additional electrical outlets for carry-on equipment and adds connections to the onboard mission computers and onboard multimission advanced tactical terminal.

“These new data connections will make the CV-22 a very capable aircraft for SOF customers – the troops in the cabin,” said Jim Butt, program lead. “The ability to receive digital updates to ground plans, download information from satellite connections, and maintain awareness of how the aircraft is progressing on its mission, means that troops won’t lose valuable time figuring out where they are and where they need to go when they reach their destination.”

Interestingly, the Block 10 upgrade comes before the aircraft are even fielded. “Some of these upgrades were being sought as part of the initial CV-22 Engineering and Manufacturing Development program, but were deferred for various reasons,” said Butt.

“SOCOM is fully committed to the CV-22 and we are investing in it by continuing to add the very latest technologies we have to make it the best platform for our pilots, crew, and c ustomers,” said Maj. Scott LeMay, US Air Force Deputy Program Manager for CV-22.

Under the current CV-22 EMD program, V-22 Aircraft 7 and 9 will demonstrate many new features, including increased fuel capacity, more and newer radios, a new suite of integrated RF countermeasures, and the multimission advanced tactical terminal among other improvements. Immediately following the EMD flight test program scheduled to complete in 2002, the Block 10 program will take over and upgrade Aircraft 9 with the additional features for subsequent testing in 2003.

“The first CV-22 aircraft to be delivered in Lot 5 [2003] will only have provisions for the Block 10 upgrades, but subsequent lots will be delivered with everything needed for Block 10, although the DIRCM lasers won’t be installed until Lot 7,” said Butt.

Block 10 represents only the first phase of what is already expected to be a three phase upgrade program for the CV-22. “We have a great relationship with SOCOM and AFSOC and we look forward to a long relationship of giving them the best of the best for Special Operations,” said Butt.

The president’s fiscal year 2001 budget request includes $10.2 million in research and development funding for the CommonAvionicsArchitecture for Penetration (CAAP) program, a $348 million effort managed by the U.S. Special Operations Command to make its aircraft safer and easier to fly…

Because CAAP is intended to create commonality among several different platforms such as the C-130, various helicopters and the CV-22 tiltrotor, it is a complex undertaking. CAAP funding has been set aside in and beyond the FYDP to install the enhancements on the 50 CV-22s the command plans to buy. Those enhancements mainly include the upgraded radar, but USSOCOM officials are still refining the requirements for the system. Likewise, officials may tweak the helicopter requirements as well.

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