Skip to comments.Marines Report Osprey Has Proven Itself in Iraq
Posted on 05/02/2008 6:18:18 PM PDT by SandRat
| WASHINGTON, May 2, 2008 The MV-22 Osprey has proven itself in Iraq, and Marine officials are applying the lessons learned in the first operational deployment of the tilt-rotor aircraft to current operations.
The MV-22 takes off and lands as a helicopter, but flies like an airplane.
Trautman, squadron commander Lt. Col. Paul Rock, MV-22 pilot Capt. Sara Faibisoff, and crew chief Sgt. Danny Herrman briefed Pentagon reporters on the squadrons deployment to Iraq. The unit deployed from Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., in September 2007 and returned last week.
Trautman said the decision to send the MV-22 to Iraq was the right one. It gave the Marines and soldiers in Anbar province the best assault support aircraft ever made, he said.
The MV-22 handled every mission it was assigned, Rock said. The unit flew more than 2,500 sorties during its seven-month deployment, with each of its aircraft flying an average of 62 hours per month. Rock said before the deployment, officials forecast each MV-22 would fly around 50 hours per month.
The aircraft was easier to maintain than the CH-46 helicopters it replaced. The 46 is 1950s-based technology, and mechanics put in 24 hours of maintenance on those aircraft for every hour in the air. The MV-22 took about 9.5 hours of maintenance for every hour of flight.
The squadron deployed with 10 aircraft. On any given day, about seven aircraft were mission ready, Rock said. That was more than sufficient to meet our daily taskings.
The biggest surprise for the Marines was the vastly increased payload and greatly increased range the Osprey brings to the mission. Herrman said that, in loading the aircraft, he would often run out of cubic space rather than exceeding the weight the aircraft could handle.
The range and speed of the aircraft also were pleasant surprises. Faibisoff told of flying a medical evacuation mission on Christmas Day. She picked up a Marine with a ruptured appendix in a remote base well south of Al Asad Air Base. The aircraft was able to launch and get the Marine to medical help in 56 minutes -- well within the golden hour, a rule of thumb that gives an ill or injured person the best chance for survival if treated within the first hour of being stricken.
We were off deck within 15 minutes of receiving the call and headed for a zone about 90 miles south of Al Asad, she said.
Computer software makes the aircraft easy to fly, and it was able to handle the desert environment, Faibisoff said.
The aircraft flew raid operations and scout missions, and conducted tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel. The squadron also flew alert missions and casualty evacuations.
The overwhelming majority of what we did was general support -- taking people, gear, combat equipment all over the very large battle space, Rock said.
The combat conditions in Anbar province had improved to such a degree that the aircraft never had to fly into a landing zone while hostilities were under way. Still, Rock said, squadron aircraft came under small-arms fire once and rocket fire once. Taking advantage of the aircrafts performance (means that) somebodys opportunity to engage us is very short, he said.
The Marine Corps is looking at adding an all-aspect, all-quadrant weapon on the MV-22.
The system were looking at now with the [U.S.] Special Operations Command is an all-aspect weapon that would be mounted in the belly of the aircraft, Trautman said. The weapon will fire in any direction and be controlled by a gunner inside the airplane.
Another MV-22 squadron is operating at Al Asad Air Base today. The service will create two more squadrons each year.
Were on a journey to exploit a new and revolutionary technology, Trautman said. Were going to continue to learn lessons and were going to continue to improve and were going to work hard to exploit the capability this aircraft.
I thought this was an interesting read from last year. (I think it was in Proceedings)
The Right Perspective
Wednesday Jan 10, 2007
The Right Perspective
by Maj Jeffrey P. Hogan JANUARY 2007
Departing the tanker with full fuel tanks, the MV22 from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 (Reinforced) throttles back to maximum endurance airspeed. At 14,500 feet above sea level the aircraft is high above the threat and burning fuel ever so slowlyslow enough to remain on station for another 31/2 hours without additional refueling. Line-of-sight communications is crisp at this altitude, complementing the integrated satellite communications capability. The relative calm of this casualty evacuation (CasEvac) platform relaxing at altitude (the engines are operating at a mere 38 percent of capacity) is in sharp contrast to the situation below.
When the call comes in the crew knows the seriousness of the situation without asking. As the fastest evacuation platform in theater, most of the CasEvac missions they receive are focused on patients who have no time to spare. Immediately plotting the evacuation site on the digital map, the crew slews the forwardlooking infrared sensor to the landing site near the point of injury. Even from this altitude the thermal signature of a burning coalition vehicle is easy to break out of the scene. With the copilot still copying the CasEvac brief, the flying pilot begins the descent and turns inbound to the landing zone (LZ) at 300 miles per hour. Although the aircraft can range any zone within 70,000 square miles in less than 30 minutes, this will be a relatively short trip of only 75 miles15 minutes for the Osprey.
Continuing the descent at maximum speed, the crew confirms the configuration of the aircraft survivability equipment and checks the readiness of the ramp-mounted M240. Based on the threat, the crew opts for a low-level ingress and levels off about 10 miles from the LZ at 200 feet above ground level. In an effort to reduce exposure, the crew maintains 220 knots until just 2 nautical miles from the zone. As they throttle back to prepare for landing, the reduction in engine thermal signature makes engagement by heat seeking missiles even more difficult for the enemy.
Half a mile from the zone, the aircraft receives fire from a nearby building. The components in the left nacelle, which have been hardened to withstand direct hits from 12.7mm ammunition, continue to function normally. Nearby hydraulic lines do not fair as well and are compromised during the engagement. Instantaneously and without crew action, the triple redundant flight control computers and vehicle management systems isolate the leak and reroute hydraulic power to critical flight controls. The crew, feeling a slight transient, notes the failure and decides to continue for the landing.
As the casualty is loaded, the crew confirms the status of the aircraft using the cockpit management system and prepares for takeoff. In order to expedite their departure, the crew rotates the nacelles forward before lift-off to maximize acceleration after becoming airborne. Passing through 30 knots the aircraft again receives fire from a nearby rooftopthis time in the form of a salvo of rocket propelled grenades. While two of the rockets pass under and behind the aircraft, the third strikes the right nacelle just forward of the engine compartment. Consequently the engine fails when it ingests debris from the shattered intake. The cockpit crew executes its procedures as the crew chief engages with the ramp gun. Fortunately, the aircraft needs little more than 40 to 50 knots of forward speed at this altitude to fly away on a single engine. The left engine, now required to drive the entire rotor system, feeds torque to the failed engines rotor through a backup cross-shaft connecting the two transmissions. As the nacelles rotate forward, the burden on the good engine decreases considerably as more of the aircrafts weight is borne by the wing.
Up and away from the threat, the aircraft turns not for the battalion aid station but directly for the Level 3 treatment facility 50 miles farther away. Even with the failed engine the Osprey can cover the distance in nearly half the time of a conventional (undamaged) helicopter. After completing a slight rolling landing to the treatment facility, the crew relays a safe on deck call to its base via another squadron aircraft that has just arrived on the tanker to pick up CasEvac standby for the remainder of the night.
While an elegant depiction of the Ospreys future worth in combat, the narrative above has a hollow ring to it. Somewhere in the readers subconscious the scenario is being compared to the distant echo of all of the others contrived over the years to make the case for the MV22. Its a standard recipe; get the audience to buy your scenario and then plug the system you advocate into it for maximum effect. Of course, in some far-off parallel universe the crew is not as sharp, the enemy is luckier or better equipped, or maybe the Osprey just doesnt live up to expectations. Scenarios are informative, but none are definitive. For each one that proves a concept, another can easily be constructed to immediately disprove it. Scenario models also tend to be intellectually confining, inviting us to fight the last war rather than the next. Ask yourself, were you thinking about Iraq when you read the CasEvac example above?
A better way to think about the potential of tiltrotor technology is to first separate fact from myth. People are entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts. The discussions below are intended to arm the reader with some ground truth about this aircraft. However, there are simply not enough pages in this magazine to clarify every bit of bad information orbiting the V22 program. Questions will remain. Anxiety will continue. But healthy skepticism, based on reality and truth, is far preferable to cynicism founded on rumor and myth.
Myth. The V22 has poor survivability characteristics.
Fact. Survivability consists of susceptibility, vulnerability, and crashworthiness. Put another way, your chance of survival depends on not getting hit, being able to fly if you do get hit, and (if you get hit badly enough) controlling and surviving the crash.
The V22s range and speed increase the crews ability to avoid threat areas entirely and still accomplish the mission. Even in a threat area, the susceptibility of a V22 flying at 240 knots and 200 feet above the ground is far less than a helicopter flying half as fast. For an enemy to engage an aircraft he must detect, identify, track, fire, and (in some cases) control a weapon in flight. The increased speed of the V22 reduces the time available for the enemy to get a weapon into the air before the aircraft leaves the engagement envelope. Even in multiship formations, the V22 can maintain this high speed until just a few miles from the LZ. From this point the Osprey is a little over 1 minute from landinga narrow window for the enemy to engage even though the aircraft is slowing down. The integrated suite of aircraft survivability equipment is able to automatically detect missile launches and dispense countermeasures while the crew maneuvers. Combined with the low infrared signature of the V22, these countermeasures are particularly effective in defeating shoulder-fired heat seeking missiles.
But what if the aircraft is hit by enemy fire? How vulnerable is it? The MV22 has undergone an extensive live fire test and evaluation (LFT&E) program consisting of no less than 60 test events and totaling more than 592 ballistic test firings (more than any aircraft in Department of Defense history). All flight control actuators were proven to be resistant to light antiaircraft artillery armor piercing incendiary (API) at 90 percent muzzle velocity. During tests of the wing structure, multiple 23mm (API and high-explosive incendiary (HEI)) shots failed to compromise the load carrying integrity of the wing. Portions of the structure were actually determined to be invulnerable to all API and HEI projectiles up to and including 23mm. Overall the LFT&E effort determined that the probability of an aircraft kill (given a hit) was significantly less than that of existing helicopters.
What about failures subsequent to the initial ballistic impact? The use of nitrogen inerting in the fuel tanks reduces the probability of fires and explosions. A fire suppression system in the wing is capable of extinguishing a fire automatically and within microseconds. The vehicle management system can isolate a hydraulic leak within a few tenths of a second to reduce the amount of fluid that might feed a fire to approximately one quart. Engine tests have shown that the AE1107C Liberty engine can run for as long as 5 or 6 minutes without engine oil. The emergency lubrication system is capable of providing oil to the transmissions for 30 minutes in the event the primary system fails. The wide separation between the two engines on a V22 reduces the possibility that a single shot could damage both engines. The single engine capability of the aircraft is also considerable, and the V22s unique ability to transition to airplane mode reduces the load on the good engine significantly.
Okay, all of that stuff didnt work. We got hit and the damage is so severe we cant continue flying. What now? The design of the V22 places the mass of the major components (engines, transmissions, coolers) at the wing tips as opposed to right over the passenger compartment as in conventional helicopters. The wing box is designed to shear the wing (and the high mass components) away on impact and protect the cabin section. The composite blades are designed to broomstraw after contact with the ground to further reduce any possibility of cabin intrusion. Passengers are seated with a five-point harness a stroking seat designed to absorb a 13.5 G (gravitational acceleration) impact. The use of suction pumps to transfer fuel up to the wing tanks means that there are no pressurized fuel lines in the cabin to spray on passengers following impact. The self-sealing fuel cells have been drop tested and contain breakaway fittings to reduce the possibility of a postimpact fire. The bottom line is that your chances of surviving an enemy engagement are far better in a V22 than in any conventional helicopter in the Marine Corps.
Myth. The V22s size and down wash limit the number and type of feasible LZs.
Fact. There seems to be some confusion about the size of the V22 relative to the CH46. The CH46 is 84.33 feet long by 51 feet wide. The Osprey is 84.58 feet wide and 57.33 feet long. Its bigger but only marginally. Additionally, it should be selfevident that the increased range and speed of the V22 greatly increases the number of feasible LZs. This issue of fewer zones isnt just a myth; its completely inverted from reality.
Another often cited concern is the down wash of the V22 and the ability to land in dusty zones. To be sure, the down wash of a V22 is greater than that of a CH46. (The Osprey weighs more than twice as much and has only 58 percent of the rotor disk area.) But does this mean that the aircraft cant land in the dust? No. Anyone who has ever landed a helicopter in the dust can testify to the skill required to do it safely and consistently. In most cases, visual reference with the ground is lost at some point prior to touchdown. The generic technique is to set a landing attitude (with deceleration and rate of descent under control) prior to losing visual contact with the ground and letting the aircraft land. This technique also works in a V22, although visual reference is normally lost at a higher altitude.
However, the V22 also has equipment and features to assist during reduced visibility landings that no other Marine Corps helicopter has. For instance, each of the three inertial navigation systems contains a highly accurate ring laser gyroscope to resolve velocities down to fractions of a knot. These precise velocities support the current hover coupled capability that can be used to automatically hold the aircraft over a point (hands off ) or land on that same point without visual reference to the ground. Even for a hand-flown landing, the hover page in the V22 gives the crew a situational awareness about drift and position over the ground that is unprecedented in our history.
Myth. The V22 lacks a defensive weapons system.
Fact. The first MV22 deployments will be made with an M240 ramp-mounted weapons system. This system has the capability to fire both on the ground and while airborne with a 180-degree field of fire. Work continues within the program to procure a permanent defensive weapons system to either replace or complement this interim solution. The goal, based on the Capabilities Production Document for Block B, is to field a system capable of firing into all quadrants (a significantly improved field of fire compared to legacy helicopters).
Myth. The V22 is not maneuverable at low airspeeds. (Specifically, it cannot descend as fast as a helicopter.) Fact. Figure 1 depicts the allowable rate of descent at given airspeeds for the V22 versus other Marine Corps helicopters. While helicopters must restrict rate of descent to 800 feet per minute at 40 knots, the V22 is capable of 1,700 feet per minute at the same speed. Additionally, only the V22 has a warning system to alert the crew of a high rate of descent situation at low forward airspeed. Testing has also shown that tiltrotors are able to recover from a high rate of descent situation as fast (if not faster) than conventional helicopters. Low speed, high rate of descent profiles have been (and will remain) a hazard to rotorcraft. Contrary to popular mythology, the associated risks will actually decrease once the V22 is fully fielded.
Technology Doesnt Win Wars, Marines Do
Nothing stated above guarantees anything. No test, regardless of scope or complexity, can perfectly simulate todays battlefield (or tomorrows). Ultimately, the enemy gets a vote. And of course, not all of the news is universally good. Almost no one is satisfied with the ramp-mounted weapons system as anything more than an interim solution on the way to something better. The lack of weather radar reduces the V22s potential significantly. The current coupled approach to a hover terminates at 50 feet, which most believe is too high. The electronic warfare suite could be better integrated into the cockpit controls and displays. More expendables would be a welcome improvement. Such is life. More importantly, such is life in every other weapons program. These issues and others are getting attention at the appropriate levels, and improvements are (slowly) making their way to the Operating Forces.
In the meantime, what should be the source of confidence in the V22? The answer is simplepeople. Marines should rest assured that people just like them, those who share their concerns, values, and experiences, work hard every day to make sure the V22 will be at the right place, at the right time, with the right tactics, to get the job done. The CH46, CH53, UH1, and AH1 are not successful because they are great aircraft. They do not post phenomenal readiness rates because they are inherently well designed. They do it because people work incredibly hard to keep the aircraft ready to fly. These communities do not keep combat losses low because of perfect systems but, rather, because of great flight leaders and crews who know how to exploit the strengths and guard the weaknesses of their aircraft.
The V22 will be no different. The people in this program, the ones who identify and solve problems every day, are people just like you. They are Operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM, Operations ENDURING FREEDOM/IRAQI FREEDOM, and Horn of Africa veteransmany highly decorated for their actions in combat. They are experts in their legacy aircraftmost are weapons and tactics instructors. They are graduates of the resident and nonresident schools of our own and sister Services. They include Air Force personnel with impeccable credentials in special operations. They are professionals all and profoundly committed to their mission.
What Is Past Is Prologue
This program is controversial. The skepticism harbored by many Marines toward the V22 is understandable and not entirely unhealthy. But in our zeal to explore every issue and identify every challenge, too much of our energy has been spent sitting in judgment of the past. The time to argue whether tiltrotor technology is worthy of our investment is over. The time to conjecture over the value of alternatives like the H60 or a service-life extension for the CH46 is long past. Spirited deliberation and debate can be constructive. But deliberation and debate without end is pernicious. In the case of the MV22, we often end up arguing about how the aircraft got here rather than where were going to take it. Its time to face reality. It is here.
The changing face and pace of conflict is another reality we are confronting at a time when our Armed Forces seem to be shrinking. Distributed operations will continue to move from the theoretical to the absolutely essential. Certainly the MV22 is not the answer to every tactical problem, but it can increase the raw productivity of an important warfighting function. How do we integrate and exploit such a potentially disruptive technology as our doctrine evolves? The question isnt how to get an MV22 to do what helicopters do now, but how to do assault support better across the spectrum of conflict. The question isnt how to simply subtract the CH46 from our force structure and add the V22 in its place, but how to move this function of Marine aviation so far forward that all of the others benefit. Maybe the better question is whether we need toconfine the MV22 to an assault support box at all. We have tackled technology insertion issues like this before (global positioning system, laser guided weapons, and night vision goggles all come to mind), and we will be forced to again in the future (expeditionary fighting vehicle, lightweight howitzer, Joint Strike Fighter). These are the questions that require the attention of the best and brightest in our Corps.
If you are wearing the uniform today you will be part of finding the answers.
Your input will be based on your experiences and rightly so. But you will also be asked to put your own biases, passions, and emotions in perspectiveto see the future the way it can be, as opposed to where conventional wisdom would predict. Youll recognize the importance of avoiding words like always and never when discussing tactics. Youll grow beyond the world of the here and now and start thinking about the next generation of Marines who are relying on you to lay the foundation for victory on the battlefields of the future. In the end you might even conclude that the only real problem we face is that we can’t find a way to by MV-22s faster.
If you don’t believe that a CH-46 requires 24 MMH/FH then you probably won’t believe that a CH-53 requires 45 MMH/FH or a B-2 requires 80 MMH/FH, either.
The headline of the link you provided is both misleading and inaccurate.
BTW, I loved seeing the two CV-22's at the beginning of Transformers. At the time, those were the only two operational CV-22's in the Air Force's arsenal.
They said it wasn’t the environment
see post 23
make that post 25
It did not say that in the link you provided. It was off of a secondary link on the page.
Wired is not exactly a publication I would base an opinion on, though. It is a cut above Rolling Stone, but just barely. Just my opinion.
I will give them credit, though, they did have the following clarification from someone who has had some experience flying in a dirty environment. That OH-58D pilot had a different take on it.
In any case, I would not be surprised to see increased, unexpected wear in an actual operating environment.
Hm. I wonder why it isn’t online.
There are no plans for a 'gunship' version of the MV-22B or CV-22B, but the Air Force has awarded a contract to BAE systems to develop a remotely operated GAU-2B 7.62mm Minigun. One development unit has been integrated into a CV-22B.
No plans as yet to incoroprate the system into Marine MV-22Bs.
Image of a possible future quad tiltrotor 'gunship' (but don't hold your breath wating for it):
Considering the age of the 46 and its components, that's not bad at all. Just the preflight prep for the crewchief is about two hours, unless the AC has been flown a lot. Flying the Frog keeps it up.
Thanks...I can’t imagine the sand in the ME...closest I came was 6 months at 29 Stumps.
thanks..I remember those threads
I now “see” why those statements were misleading.
It about projections/money not performance.
I was curious and looked her up, here is a link for anyone else that's interested ~ Student pilot makes history