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Osprey continues to prove itself in Navy carrier tests

It's been a big summer for the CMV-22B Osprey, the tilt-rotor aircraft preparing to replace the Navy's decades-old C-2 Greyhound as the transport vehicle of choice to underway aircraft carriers.

Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 wrapped up two weeks of testing aboard the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson on Thursday, operating as a mock detachment to test the aircraft's abilities in a carrier strike group, according to a Monday release from the Navy.

The Navy is preparing for a big shift in the 2020s, from a propeller plane carrying people and cargo to and from deployed carriers to the helicopter-like Osprey, which until now has been used by only the Air Force and Marine Corps.

"It gives us a lot of options, a lot of flexibility, in the sense that we can recover it more as a helicopter or sometimes we can treat it more like a fixed-wing aircraft," Vinson's air boss, Cmdr. Lucas Kadar, said in the release.

During the fleet battle experiment, the squadron hauled 34,590 pounds of cargo and 563 passengers to and from the carrier, according to the release.

It was the second Osprey test for the Vinson this summer, following a June underway to test flight operations. Officials are finding that not only is the Osprey easier to land at night because it doesn't need landing safety officers and arresting wires, but it's more nimble.

"We now have the option of taking cargo and personnel to some of the smaller decks without first having to come to the aircraft carrier," Marine Lt. Col. Brett Hart, VMX-1's executive officer, said in a June release. "With that considered, the carrier can expect to have potentially more flight deck and air space freed up, allowing it to launch more sorties in support of combat operations."

As the Osprey is put through its paces in the fleet, engineers at Naval Air Systems Command are working to simplify the aircraft's supply chain with 3-D printing.

The Marine Corps and Air Force has been operating the Osprey since 2007. The Navy is due to receive its CMV-22B variant in 2018, and being deploying them 2022.

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