This post is appearing on Autoblog Military, Autoblog's sub-site dedicated to the vehicles, aircraft and ships of the world's armed forces.

The Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office has contracted British company Cobham to develop a system to let the US Marine Corps' MV-22 Osprey refuel other aircraft. If the project is successful, the Osprey could become one of the most versatile aircraft in the US military – a plane that can take off and land vertically while carrying men and materiel, fuel for other aircraft, or even weapons and armor.

According to press release, the idea behind the project is to take Cobham's FR-300 hose drum from the KC-130 and convert it to "roll-on/roll-off" palletized refueling system. Called the V-22 Air Refueling System, or VARS, Cobham claims the tilt-rotor Osprey could eventually refuel the F-35B Lightning, F/A-18 Hornet, and other hose-and-drogue-equipped aircraft, like the F-35C and the entire US military's helicopter arsenal.

According to DoD Buzz, a VARS-equipped Osprey could carry 10,000 pounds of fuel. Now, that's not a lot – it's just over half a tank for an F-35 – but it's a capability that can usefully extend time on station for Marine aircraft when a KC-135 Stratotanker and its 200,000 pounds of jet fuel is too big or valuable to deploy.

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