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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

V-22 Osprey Tilt-Rotor Aircraft: Background and Issues for Congress

Jeremiah Gertler
Specialist in Military Aviation

The V-22 Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter and flies forward like an airplane. Department of Defense plans call for procuring a total of 458 V-22s, including 360 MV-22s for the Marine Corps; 50 CV-22 special operations variants for U.S. Special Operations Command, or USSOCOM (funded jointly by the Air Force and USSOCOM); and 48 HV-22s for the Navy.

Through FY2010, a total of 216 V-22s have been procured—185 MV-22s for the Marine Corps, and 31 CV-22s for USSOCOM. These totals include several V-22s that have been procured in recent years through supplemental appropriations bills. V-22s are currently procured under a $10.4 billion, multiyear procurement arrangement covering the period FY2008-FY2012. The contract, which was awarded on March 28, 2008, covers the procurement of 167 aircraft—141 MV-22s and 26 CV-22s.

The proposed FY2012 budget requested about $2.5 billion in procurement and advance procurement funding for 30 MV-22s, and about $499.9 million in procurement and advance procurement funding for six CV-22s, with $70 million of that from Overseas Contingency Operations funds.

For FY2012, the V-22 program poses a number of potential oversight issues for Congress, including the aircraft’s readiness rates, reliability and maintainability, and operational suitability. 

FY2011 defense authorization bill:
As passed, H.R. 6523, the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2011 (P.L. 111-383, signed January 7, 2011), did not include program-level detail, so no amount is specified solely for the V-22. 

FY2011 DOD appropriations bill:
In lieu of a defense appropriations bill, Congress approved a resolution continuing FY2010 spending levels.

On February 15, 2011, the House voted 326 to 105 against an amendment to a proposed continuing resolution for FY2011 that would have reduced V-22 funding by $415 million.

Date of Report: March 10, 2011
Number of Pages: 30
Order Number: RL31384
Price: $29.95

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