Magazine article National Defense

Vendors Faceoff over Navy Cargo Aircraft

Magazine article National Defense

Vendors Faceoff over Navy Cargo Aircraft

Article excerpt


* The Navy isn't likely to kick off a competition until 2014, but two rival manufacturers are eager to prove that their aircraft is the best option for flying supplies to carrier strike groups.

Northrop Grumman Corp., which produces the C-2 Greyhound cargo aircraft currently performing "carrier onboard delivery" (COD), wants to modernize the Navy's fleet. Bell Helicopter and its partner Boeing are pushing the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft flown by Air Force Special Operations Command and the Marine Corps to take over the delivery role.

Both companies say their aircraft would save the Navy money, but Bell officials claim the Osprey 's ability to fly horizontally like a plane and take off vertically like a helicopter would modernize the way the service conducts COD missions.

In the Navy's current "hub-and-spoke" style of carrier onboard delivery, a Greyhound transports cargo to an aircraft carrier, and then helicopters distribute that equipment out to other ships in the strike group. The Osprey could still operate the same way but would also be able to deliver supplies directly to those ships, said Ken Karika, manager of military business development for Bell Helicopter.

"With the V-22, we can have the same range, speed and payload capability as the C-2, but we have the vertical lift component, the direct delivery capability," Karika said. "Frankly, I think we can perform this mission better than the existing aircraft because of our flexibility."

Northrop Grumman officials, however, assert that the traditional hub-and-spoke method is less expensive than delivering supplies from ship to ship. …

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