MV-22 Osprey evaluated for fighting fires

MV-22 Osprey with bucket
MV-22 Osprey with bucket. DOD photo.

The Marines have conducted some tests to determine how feasible it would be for the MV-22 Osprey to fight wildland fires. As you may know, the Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft capable of vertical or short takeoff and landing. When airborne, it can cruise at over 300 mph, can carry 24 to 32 troops, or 15,000 pounds of external cargo.

In March, 2011 the Marines tested the Osprey with a 900-gallon Bambi Bucket suspended from 50-foot and 100-foot ling lines attached to the rear cargo hook while flying at up to 90 knots. After the tests, they came up with the following recommendations:

  • Maximum airspeed with bucket empty – 90 KIAS
  • Maximum airspeed with bucket full – 90 KIAS
  • Maximum airspeed when dumping – 50 KIAS
  • Max angle of bank- 30 degrees AOB
  • Use of Automatic Release Mode is prohibited.
  • Bambi bucket should be positioned to the 6 o’clock position of the aircraft prior to takeoff or landing.
  • Aircrew shall continuously monitor load for oscillations or unusual load movement.

The report can be found here (2.6MB).

However, there are some issues that would stand in the way of the Osprey fighting fires, such as the very powerful rotor wash that has injured people nearby, the extreme heat that comes out of the engine exhaust which has started wildland fires and damaged flight decks on ships, and the high cost of $83,256 dollars an hour.

We have written a number of articles at Fire Aviation and at Wildfire Today about the MV-22 Osprey, and its suitability for fighting fires.


Thanks and a hat tip go out to Ross.

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8 thoughts on “MV-22 Osprey evaluated for fighting fires”

  1. With all those moving parts and costs of those parts and paying mechanics in the USMC which by the way may or may not be getting paid private sector wages, paying for replacement parts such as engines, transmissions, propeller / rotors, gearboxes………… nauseum

    I would say $83 K is a bargain…….and the USFS did not have to pay a plug nickel for it, unlike the USAF having to pay for the USFS C130 CWB program…..get the drift?

    83 for newer technology and rotating parts? What do you suppose that airline type aircraft types of costs are there when going on vacation or that S whatever class clear across the country costs? I would say that 83 is quite a deal in terms the USMC has determined.

    If it is too expensive…..don’t order it, simple as that. What was that old motto 18 to 23 years ago about the USFS FAM triangle??? Refer to that and read what is here

    Maybe the Marines would like to get in on the action for their own benefit in IA ‘cuz one never know where there is going to be Fed Airtanker nearby for those accidental military training starts…….

    1. I still think the price per hour is too much for what you get. Lets face it, the MV-22 doesn’t have the best flight record. For roughly the same per hour price you can get two and a half Pavehawks with the same bucket capacity each, better turn times and less worries due to all the reasons you listed. If the Marines want in the business, tell them to bring their CH-47s or resurrect the 53’s.

  2. Mr Miller

    Personally, I think the LMA’s are not in the biz to tell the USMC anything what to bring.
    We/ I in the aviation world are well aware of the MV 22….

    Again if they want in the biz and the LMA’s want their services…….you get what you get or get smart to work those details out.

  3. I’m going to guess the USMC expected this outcome, and the study was done to say “keep your greedy hands off of our aircraft.”

  4. I took a tour of the US Air Force’s Ospreys while in Albuquerque last summer.
    I was told they were never certificated for civilian passengers (like the Blackhawk helicopters). Kinda limits troop hauling to only military….

  5. With all the Guard assets (UH60 and CH47) that are ramped up every season, and with all the Type II and III ship out there on contract…..why worry about a new ship in the area. If the Marines want to play……. There isn’t even a 4 letter acronym identifier in the 310-1 that even has a S or I training curriculum that identifies attaining need for the MV22. Heck, the USFS can not even master how the C130 project is going to get meted out, what makes anyone think the LMA’s are going to wrestle the MV22 in a training environment?

    Nice to dream, tho……

    Is there a reason other than USMC and protecting their areas nearby USMC reservations (on reservation and within 5 miles of “post” that we out here in the civilian world are drooling if we are ever going to get picked up to our next assignment in an Osprey?

    Really…Let’s leave this ship to the professionals and if the LMA’s ever get to “use ” this ship…it sure won’t be under LMA operational control….that is almost garoooonteed!

  6. Outside the Marines wanting to protect their interests, forget it. Can you imagine getting a bucket of water from a pond at a golf course. What you didn’t blow over you would burn up. After the first fuel cycle the place (golf course) would look like the burning oil fields of the Gulf War.

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