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The US Marine Corps expects to declare initial operational capability for the Bell Boeing V-22 Aerial Refuelling System (VARS) in late 2019, with the milestone to represent the availability of an initial four mission-equipped aircraft.
VARS will be qualified with the USMC’s Boeing AV-8B, F/A-18 and Lockheed Martin F-35B strike aircraft and Sikorsky CH-53 fleets, although a testing timeline has yet to be worked out, says Lt Col Douglas Ogden, MV-22 military platform lead at the V-22 joint progamme office. The service had originally hoped to have the in-flight refuelling system ready to support initial operations with the F-35B, but a contract award was delayed until October 2016.