September's report that the US Air Force was thinking about armoring and arming its V-22 Osprey was a surprise, and now, less than three months on, the tilt-rotor plane has successfully completed its first forward-firing weapons test.

The tests, which were conducted by the plane's manufacturers, Bell and Boeing, saw the V-22 fired a tube-mounted, 70-millimeter rocket.

"The forward-firing demonstration was a great success," Vince Tobin, the plane's program manager said in a press statement. "We've shown the V-22 can be armed with a variety of forward-facing munitions and can hit their targets with a high degree of reliability."

Jane's reports that V-22s have been successfully deployed with a pair of guns – the half-inch M2 and the 7.62-millimeter GAU-17 gatling gun – although they were purely defensive items. The new systems wouldn't convert the V-22 into an attack aircraft, but according to Tobin, it would reduce the aircraft's reliance on escorting attack helos.

Scroll down for the official press release from Bell and Boeing.
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BELL BOEING DEMONSTRATES SUCCESSFUL V-22 OSPREY FORWARD-FIRING CAPABILITY
Equipping V-22 with forward-firing rockets and missiles now possible

Fort Worth, TX (December 8, 2014) –Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company (NYSE: TXT), announced the successful demonstration of forward-firing capability for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. The exercise took place last month at the United States Army Proving Ground in Yuma, Ariz.

To download images and video of the forward-firing demonstration, please visit this link.

"The forward-firing demonstration was a great success," said Vince Tobin, vice president and program manager for the Bell Boeing V-22. "We've shown the V-22 can be armed with a variety of forward-facing munitions, and can hit their targets with a high degree of reliability. Congratulations to the team who has worked from initial design to completion of this demonstration."

The Bell Boeing V-22 is one of the safest aircraft operated by the Marine Corps. Since its deployment in 2007, the V-22 has achieved outstanding mission success in deployments to Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. The Osprey offers operators a wide range of mission capability including raids, Casualty Evacuation, Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief, resupply, VIP transport, and theater security cooperation.

"Integrating a forward firing capability to the Osprey will increase its mission set," Tobin continued. "These weapons, once installed, will provide added firepower and reduce reliance on Forward Arming and Refueling Points (FARPs) which are sometimes necessary to supply short range attack rotorcraft in support of V-22 operations. Without the need for FARPs, V-22s can be launched more frequently, and on shorter notice."

Through the end of the third quarter of 2014, Bell Boeing has delivered 242 MV-22 tiltrotor for the Marine Corps and 44 CV-22 for Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). Bell Helicopter began initial design work on forward fire capability in mid-2013.

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