Skip to comments.Pentagon Orders 11 New Osprey Aircraft
Posted on 05/16/2003 10:15:46 AM PDT by klpt
The Pentagon on Thursday ordered 11 new V-22 Osprey aircraft for $817 million, giving a boost to a program plagued by deadly crashes and other problems.
The program had been in danger of being eliminated after 23 Marines died in crashes during testing in 2000. The aircraft's maker, a joint venture between Boeing Co. and Textron Inc.'s Bell Helicopter unit, had to redesign parts of the aircraft to fix hydraulic and other problems.
The Osprey has fixed wings and propellors that can tilt upward so the craft can take off and land like a helicopter, then tilt forward so it can fly like an airplane. The Marine Corps wants to use the Osprey as a replacement for its aging fleet of transport helicopters. The Air Force and Navy are interested in using the Osprey, too.
A December 2000 crash in North Carolina that killed four Marines was blamed on a design flaw that allowed electrical and hydraulic lines to rub together while the rotors were being tilted, causing the hydraulic lines to burst.
The hydraulic and electrical lines have been rerouted to solve that problem, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The deadliest crash was blamed on an aerodynamic condition called "vortex ring state" that happened during an unusually rapid descent. Nineteen Marines died in that April 2000 crash near Tucson, Ariz.
The Pentagon ordered another round of testing for the Osprey after the redesign, and military officials have said those tests have gone well. Ordering 11 more Ospreys to be built is a signal that the program has passed those tests.
The Osprey has a longer range and flies faster and more quietly than the Marines' current fleet of transport helicopters.
The new Ospreys will be built at factories in Ridley Park, Penn., and Fort Worth and Amarillo, Texas.
Many weapons systems started out with similar problems. I remember story after story of problems with the Apache helicopter.
The B-26 Martin Marauder is another example of a problem-plagued aircraft that eventually went on to serve with disctinction.
I believe that military aircraft should have guns.
Every radically new aircaft has its teething problems. I remember there was a series of crashes of 737 aircraft when they were new. And it wasn't even "radical".
The "ring vortex" thing, or what I was taught was "descent with power" will happen with any helecopter type aircraft. Just like stalling a fixed wing aircraft will bring it down if no recovery is made, "descent with power" was purely a pilot screwup and can't be blamed on the aircraft.
If this thing wasn't radical, and there weren't politics involved, no one but those involved would have paid attention to the crashes.
The aircrew should have immediately landed the aircraft just as they were taught in the simulator and just as the NATOPS manual is written instead of repeatedly pressing the FCS reset switch which exacerbated the software anomalies.
The deadliest crash was blamed on an aerodynamic condition called "vortex ring state" that happened during an unusually rapid descent. Nineteen Marines died in that April 2000 crash near Tucson, Ariz.
That crash was a result of pilot error. Major John Brow improperly flew the aircraft. Any rotary winged aircraft will enter VRS when improperly flown. Brow proved that you can't execute a 2000+fpm descent from an altitude of 200 feet at less than 40 knots ground speed and survive.
The P-38 was another aircraft that had a "killer" reputation when it was first introduced. The real problem turned out to be inadequate training. Many pilots hadn't even been trained in multi-engine aircraft.
After Bob Hoover and some factory test pilots made the rounds as bases giving additional training and doing airshows to prove the AC was good, confidence in the AC was great.
Hoover developed his single engine Shrike Commander airshow originally in the P-38. He'd shut off an engine and continue to perform airshow manuvers. The regular Air Corps pilots of the day were amazed because they didn't think the thing would fly at all single engine.
To the contrary, this bird has proven very safe when flown properly and in accordance with the NATOPS. The UH-60 has killed hundreds of American troops. Think it should be grounded?
The P3 Orion is still in widespread service and is the most produced aircraft of its type. Today the Electra is still in limited passenger airline service around the world, although one well-known operator Reeve Aleutian in Alaska folded in 2001.
Really? What vehicle meets the JORD requirements if it's not the Osprey?
The Marine Corps and the Air Force would strongly disagree with you.
No, no, no. Belabor away!
I posted those comments to head off the inevetable carping and whining from the "experts" around here who always show up on these threads to tell us why something won't work, but never what will.
I was hoping people would add examples. Thanks for the great input.
Well, if I'm not mistaken, it was increased training emphasizing the weaknesses of the Marauder that helped lower the fatality rate.
Amazing what you can do telling pilots what they CAN'T do.
Since the V-22's small rotors produce three times more downwash than helicopters, many pilots have expressed concern about "brownouts", which occur when dirt and dust fill the air blocking all vision. (note the water in the photo above) The U.S. military has damaged several helicopters in Afghanistan when hard landing occurred due to brownouts. The extent of this problem with the V-22 appears serious, but according section 126.96.36.199 of the Report to Congress: "The planned development testing does not include unimproved site ops where brownout is typically encountered..." The reports suggests that brownouts can be avoided by using "non-hover landings".
The Osprey is unarmed
Even if a new device allows a V-22 to safely and SLOWLY descend into a combat landing zone; this is where 91% of combat losses occur. Transports have a "door gunner" on each side who shoot a rapid-fire machine gun (called mini-guns, right) at enemy positions below to "suppress" enemy fires. When several helicopters land in formation, the volume of fire pouring down is impressive. However, the V-22 will have no door gunners because the tandem rotor design blocks half their view and field of fire. No one wants a door gunner attempting to shoot around a massive rotor and wing sticking out the side of an aircraft; the rotor wash would affect his accuracy anyway.
The V-22 program has dodged this issue. The original explanation was that it could be added later in the program. In the 1990s, they convinced marine corps leaders that a gun could make the pilot too aggressive, thus endangering his passengers. When General Jones become Commandant in 1999, he insisted the V-22 must have a gun to provide suppressive fire. As a result, Jones was told a rapid fire GAU-19 .50 caliber machine gun would be mounted on a turret under the nose and fired by the co-pilot. (similar to the 20mm gun on the Cobra attack helo at left) This is not a simple task since the 608lbs GAU-19 with several hundred rounds of ammunition and the electric pivoting nose chin will take a lot of space under the crowded cockpit. The extra of weight and bulbous chin will also reduce speed and performance.
The past 16-month delay for the V-22 redesign was the ideal time to add the gun into the test aircraft. This is important because the gun's weight and vibration while firing will affect aircraft performance. Since the GAU-19 is a proven gun, there is no reason to delay. However, testing will resume without the GAU-19. In fact, the current plan delays adding the gun until the very end of testing in 2008. The Bell-Boeing team may imply the GAU-19 is something which can just be bolted on at the very end. If its that simple, why not bolt it on now? Obviously, there is a major problem with adding the GAU-19, so Bell-Boeing will continue to dodge this issue until it goes away. As a result, if a safe V-22 is ever developed, it will fly into combat completed unarmed. Since the V-22s are much faster than the Cobra attack helicopters that escort transports, they will have to fly as slow as helicopters and negate their only advantage.
The Tilt-rotor may Tilt sideways aboard ship
While in flight "the location of the engines, gear boxes and rotors at the wing tips causes relatively high roll and yaw inertia". This is a direct quote from NATOPS section 9.2. This also causes serious problems aboard ship. The roll of a ship or gusts from nearby aircraft can cause a V-22 on ship to tilt over on the deck and squash sailors and Marines nearby. A NAVAIR report by Kurt Long -pdf states this danger is "VERY significant" and "...could prohibit ALL shipboard ops." This problem was ignored in the redesign because no solution exists.
Fewer V-22s can fit on ship
Few people realize the V-22 weighs almost as much as the powerful CH-53E, which can carry twice as much. The V-22 can automatically perform a contortionist routine to save space, although maintenance officers cringe when shown the photo at right. They know that after a few years of wear and countless automatic folds, every moving part eventually breaks.
Nevertheless, Navy ships can only carry so much weight before they become unstable. This is particularly important for objects high on ship, like on the flight deck. As a result, some Marine leaders have just discovered the Corps cannot deploy twelve V-22s aboard ship with a standard MEU composite squadron. So assuming that V-22s ever become safe, a MEU can deploy with no more than eight V-22s, instead of today's twelve smaller CH-46Es. Actually, the CH-46E has more internal cargo space than the V-22, it just weighs much less.
This is why the LHA/LHD Replacement program recently emerged. Some people want to spend billions of dollars to design a new class of bigger flattop amphibs just to carry a MEU composite squadron with twelve V-22s, rather than continuing to buy modern LHDs. The LHDs are already larger than any World War II aircraft carriers, and larger than any foreign aircraft carriers. Even if this expensive idea for larger ships is adopted, it will be ten years before the first appears in the Fleet, and 35 years before the last "undersized" LHD retires, along with the last V-22s.
The Navy MH-60S is superior
Recently, Congress began asking about alternatives to the V-22. The marine corps dodged this issue, then offered the European EH-101 as a possibility, knowing that Congress would never support the purchase of a foreign aircraft. The Corps ignored the new Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, which has been sold to Ireland and Communist China. It claimed it would take years to develop a "navalized" version of the Army Blackhawk, ignoring the Navy HH-60H Seahawk, which has been in service for years, and an advanced version, the MH-60S Knighthawk, which just entered Navy service. The Knighthawk can carry a crew of four and 13 passengers or 10,000lbs of cargo, which is twice the payload of the older CH-60A "Blackhawk in service with the U.S. Army.
The marine corps can simply sign a production contract to join in the Navy buy for Knighthawks in FY2003. Navy H-60 spare parts and training programs have been functioning for years, and the Corps already operates eight VH-60s as part of the Presidential helicopter squadron. If the marine corps joined the Army, Navy, and Air Force by adopting the Sikorsky H-60 series for basic transport, all services would save money and improve interoperability. This year, the Navy bought 17 MH-60S for $17 million each, they would cost even less if purchased at a higher rate with a joint marine corps buy. The MH-60S can carry almost as much as the MV-22, at one-sixth the price. The Navy is impressed with the MH-60S and will use them to replace their CH-46D helicopters, rather than buying 48 HV-22s.
Adopting the H-60 design would allow the marine corps to add a new capability by modifying some MH-60S as EH-60E electronic warfare or MH-60Q Medi-vac helicopters, using components already in service with the Army. The Corps can also buy some MH-60Ks (right), which have larger fuel tanks and refueling probes which allow it to fly much farther than the MV-22. Another advantage is that the MH-60S is equipped to carry 16 Hellfire anti-tank missiles. This would quadruple the airborne anti-tank firepower of the marine corps. For example, MEU composite squadrons which the Corps maintains forward-deployed include four Cobra attack helicopters which could be supported by twelve MH-60S carrying Hellfires and machine guns.
What happened? Passenger fall out?
Are you sure about this assertion? The first flight by Orville Wright was December 17, 1903, followed by two more that day with Wilbur taking his turn. Wilbur died in 1912, just as the airplane was beginning to make great advances. Orville worked on alone and in 1913 won the Collier Trophy for a device to automatically balance airplanes. In 1915 he sold his interest in the Wright Company, and continued work on the development of aviation in his own shop. In 1929, he received the first Daniel Guggenheim Medal for his and Wilbur's contributions to the advancement of aeronautics. He died on January 30, 1948. I always assumed it was of natural causes.
For Colonel Dunn, USAF. He is telling it like it is. I NEVER understood why the V-22 was so damned critical to future Marine operations.
Sept. 17, 1908: Lt. Thomas Selfridge is the first passenger killed in a plane crash, when a Wright Flyer piloted by Orville crashes during Army tests at Fort Myer, Va.
My dear Smedley, why don't you tell us what you REALLLY THINK!
So tell is in detail where the V-22 is superior in the particulars to the MH-60s? And what about the door-gunner issue? This damn bird is pretty old now, and they STILL haven't tested it with the GAU-19. And as for VRC, it IS a problem for helos...and particularly one with small rotors...
Retired Colonel Harry P. Dunn is out of the loop and his opinions, one has to wonder what ax he is grinding, are at odds with the overwhelming majority of people who actually know what they are talking about. '"The terrain and elevation in Afghanistan have validated our need for the capability of an aircraft like the CV-22," Air Force Lt. Gen. Paul Hester, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), last week told a National Defense Industrial Association Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict symposium audeince in Arlington, Va. "We need the technology that this aircraft offers and I am excited that testing is going to begin soon with our Marine brothers' [MV-22 variant]. We need to get on with making sure this program becomes a reality. The requirement is fairly clear, we revalidated it." ... During one mission, AFSOC launched MH-53s from a base 490 miles from the target zone. That flight took nine hours to complete, with three aerial refuelings events. The mission was flown "at the extreme upper limits of our MH-53s flight regime," Hester said, "within the lethal envelope of every air defense in the country [such as ZSU-23/4 anti-aircraft artillery]." "CV-22 on the other hand... would have flown the mission in half the time, without aerial refueling and would have been above almost every defense threat in that country," he added.' SOCOM holds to CV-22 requirement by Hunter Keeler, Defense Daily, February 13, 2002
Seriously, if Boeing wanted to build confidence in the aircraft they should keep a few for regular use by their corporate officers.
And I really do hope they got the bugs worked out and the thing fixed.
In other words, you don't know and can't.
UH-60 Black Hawk : FY02 Budget Appropriation: $404.8 million
No military aircraft enjoys as much widespread support in Congress as the UH-60 Black Hawk. As aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia, observes, "It is a product of what now seems like the era of unlimited new programs, and is the last system of its kind that the services will get for a long time. If DoD doesnt request any, Congress adds some. If DoD requests some, Congress adds more." [ Does this sound like sour-grapes or what??! Teal Group must have some vested interest...]
This year, for instance, the House of Representatives gave the Army an additional $131 million for eight more Black Hawks, thus giving the service a robust procurement of 20 UH-60s in all.
This amounts to a significant down payment on the Armys outstanding requirement for 240 Black Hawks. Most of these helicopters are needed by the Reserves and National Guard, which are receiving the eight additional UH-60s appropriated by Congress.
The Guard also is receiving 120 cascaded Black Hawks from the active-duty Army. These aircraft were promised by Gen. Eric Shinseki, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, at the annual meeting of the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in September 2000. However, budgetary shortfalls and logistical difficulties forced the Army to postpone this long-awaited transfer of aviation assets until 2002.
Significantly, the transfer involves brand-new production aircraft, as well as used helicopters. The Army currently is procuring L-model Black Hawks, which were first manufactured in 1989. The UH-60L has increased lift capability and reduced O&S costs, but uses 1980s technology and still has an analog navigation system.
The Army plans to refurbish 193 Black Hawks as UH-60As. This refurbishment will yield no modernization improvements; however, it will keep the oldest UH-60As flyable until these aircraft can be upgraded to M-model Black Hawks sometime during the next 15 years. The average UH-60A is 18 years old.
Again, the problem is money. The A-model refurbishment is viewed as a necessary interim measure, a cost-effective way to maintain the fleet when funding is scarce. Indeed, Black Hawk modernization really lies in the UH-60M, which will give the aircraft new digital interoperability, long-range precision navigation, and 2,000 pounds more lift than the A-model Black Hawk. The UH-60M also will be able to lift 700 pounds more than the UH-60L.
The Army already has begun work on its UH-60M modernization, having signed a $219.7 million research development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) contract with Sikorsky last May. The service intends to procure 1,217 UH-60Ms over the next 25 years, starting with 10 low rate initial production (LRIP) helicopters in 2004.
Sikorsky began work on the M-model Black Hawk in November, with the induction of two -60As and one -60L. The Army will upgrade A- and L-model Black Hawks into -60Ms before shifting exclusively to M-model production in 2007.
The U.S. ARMY has seen an increase in both class records via accident involving the UH 60...where as Class A and B with other services remains consistant...even seeing a decrease.
an excerpt from Aviation week article:
Trends for the other services' aviation branches show a more positive outlook. For instance, Navy and Marine Corps safety trends indicate their accident levels will be low, resulting in what could be one of the safest years, unless the number of accidents rises substantially in the second half. The Class A rate through Mar. 21 was 1.21 accidents per 100,000 flight hours. That includes seven aircraft destroyed, compared with 12 by this time last year. Deaths are down too, from 11 last year to nine so far this year.
The mishap rate for the Navy alone was 0.99 per 100,000 flight hours, with fiveClass As so far. However, that doesn't include one flight-related incident, which was also the Navy's deadliest aviation accident this year, the Mar. 12 accident in Kuwait when an F/A-18C dropped three 500-lb. bombs on a forward observation post, killing six.
The Marine Corps has had three major aircraft accidents this fiscal year, leading to a mishap rate of 1.93 per 100,000 flight hours. That includes the Dec. 11 crash of a MV-22 tiltrotor in which four Marines died. The other two accidents were the crash of a TAV-8B on landing, killing both crew, and the loss of an F/A-18C, in which the pilot ejected safely after suffering dual engine flameout.
The cost of the equipment damaged or destroyed in the Navy and Marine Corps accidents has reached about $274 million. Although more aircraft were destroyed during the same period last year, the Fiscal 2001 level so far is higher than the $230 million for the first part of Fiscal 2000.
Air Force accidents also are slightly below last year's level. Through Mar. 20, the service has recorded eight Class As, one fewer than the year before. The accident rate for the Air Force is the lowest of all the Pentagon's aviation communities, with 0.87 accidents per 100,000 flight hours. So far, two people have died in those events, versus five during the first six months of Fiscal 2000.
The low level is in part attributable to the large number of hours flown by transport aircraft. For fighter and attack aircraft, the accident rate so far is 2.02, about the same as last year. As is usually the case, the most accidents were in the large, single-engine F-16 fleet, which has experienced four Class As.
Getting back to UH 60 : )
New and rebuilt UH-60Ms will have improved payload, new digital cockpit displays, a strengthened fuselage, new composite spar wide-chord blades, and more powerful engines. The recapitalized UH-60 aircraft will have an additional 20 years of service life.
The UH-60M composite spar wide-chord blade will provide 500 pounds more lift than the current UH-60L blade. The new General Electric T700-GE-701D engine currently under development by the Army will add 3 per cent more shaft horsepower, which will allow 400 to 500 pounds additional payload. The BLACK HAWK excels in the combat role. It has built-in tolerance to small arms fire and most medium-caliber high-explosive projectiles, plus specifically designed airframe and landing gear features, for a high degree of battlefield survivability. Other safety features include ballistically hardened flight controls, redundant electrical and hydraulic systems, self-sealing, crash-resistant fuel system, and energy-absorbing landing gear and crew seats.
The ruggedness and survivability of the BLACK HAWK, combined with its multi-mission flexibility, have made it the world?s standard medium utility helicopter. Sikorsky has delivered more than 2,500 Hawk family helicopters since 1978 and the aircraft have logged more than five million flying hours.
More than 2000 H-60 BLACK HAWK and H-60 variants are flown by all five U.S. military services. More than 600 International S-70 variants, including SEAHAWK naval derivatives, are serving, or are on order, with 25 international customers. The Australian Army currently flies 36 S-70A-9 BLACK HAWKs, an international variant of the UH-60. Most of Australia?s BLACK HAWKs were assembled in country by Hawker de Havilland under Sikorsky license. Since entering service in the late 1980?s, the Australian BLACK HAWKs have participated in a variety of missions, most recently with the international peacekeeping mission in East Timor.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX), of Hartford, Conn, is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of advanced helicopters for commercial, industrial and military uses. Sikorsky helicopters occupy a prominent position in the intermediate to heavy range of 5,300 kg. to 33,000 kg. gross weight. They are flown by all five branches of the United States armed forces, along with military services and commercial operators in more than 40 nations, including S-70A-9 BLACK HAWKs and S-70B-2 SEAHAWKs in service with the Australian Defence Forces.
Osprey fails key tests of performance Weight, Balance Issues Put Program Further Behind, but Marines Say V-22 Is Still Their Top Aviation Priority
By JOSEPH NEFF, Staff Writer
The Marines fought in Iraq with Vietnam-era helicopters, and they'll likely fly the 40-year-old aircraft when they fight next. The replacement, the V-22 Osprey, is years from being battle-ready -- and it may never be. Internal program documents obtained by The News & Observer show that the groundbreaking tilt-rotor aircraft -- 20 years and $14.7 billion in the making -- is failing two critical tests it was supposed to have passed several years ago:
* carrying a 5-ton cannon, an essential part of its mission; and
* keeping its balance with the maximum load of fuel necessary for making 2,100-mile trips across the Atlantic.
The two tasks -- lifting 5 tons and flying 2,100 miles -- are essential, said*** Bill Lawrence of Fort Worth, Texas, a pilot and former V-22 test program manager. In military jargon, they are known as key performance parameters. Failure to meet them can cause a program to be canceled, although that is rare in expensive weapons systems developed over decades.
"If we don't get a machine to do the key performance parameters, then it won't do the missions we need it to do," Lawrence said. "That raises the question: Why are we buying this aircraft?"
The Marines want to buy 360 Ospreys, and the Air Force and Navy plan to buy 98. A joint program of Bell Helicopter and Boeing, the Osprey program has steadily increased in price; it is now estimated to cost $48.3 billion if all the planned planes are built. Each aircraft will now cost more than $105 million.
The aircraft has been troubled on several fronts. Four Ospreys have crashed, killing 30, including one near Jacksonville in 2000 that killed four Marines. A scandal at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Onslow County, home of the first Osprey squadron, resulted in two Marine officers' being disciplined in 2001 for doctoring maintenance records.
The Osprey can roll over and lose control when descending too rapidly at low forward speeds. Unlike helicopters, it cannot autorotate, or land safely if it loses power. And problems continue to plague the hydraulic system, computers and firefighting system.
Col. Dan Schultz, the V-22 program manager at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland, did not answer questions for this report. Ward Carroll, spokesman for the V-22 program, said engineers are identifying risks and acting so that the key requirements won't be missed. The internal documents were "pre-decisional and proprietary," he said.
"We are not at a place to comment publicly," Carroll said. "We can't run a program like this in public."
The Osprey remains the Marines' top aviation priority, Lt. Gen. Emil R. Bedard told a subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 9.
"The MV-22's increased range, speed, payload and survivability will generate truly transformational tactical and operational capabilities," Bedard said in a written statement.
The Osprey's design is unlike that of any other flying machine. It takes off like a helicopter, then tilts its huge rotors forward and flies like an airplane. That combination of maneuverability and speed has led to bold expectations.
The Marines tout the Osprey's ability to fly to any trouble spot on the globe within hours, quickly responding to the seizure of an embassy or the evacuation of civilians. Helicopters, by contrast, must be folded up and transported by ship or cargo aircraft.
They also think the Osprey will transform the movement of Marines and weapons into battle. Its greater range means that the V-22 can fly from a ship around the enemy's positions and drop off Marines to attack from the rear, they say.
Yet those expectations require missions that the Osprey now struggles to perform: flying 2,100 miles with one aerial refueling, and lifting a 5-ton load in a sling and carrying it 50 nautical miles.
The 5-ton load was designed with artillery in mind. Marines dropped on the ground need bigger guns than the weapons they carry on their backs. Marines need artillery that kills, slows or stops the movement of enemy forces, suppresses their weapons system and demoralizes them.
The Marines, in conjunction with the Army, are developing a new 5-ton howitzer, Lt. Gen. Robert Magnus explained to a House Armed Services subcommittee meeting March 20.
And, Magnus said in prepared testimony, it will be lighter, "allowing the howitzer to be rapidly air-delivered by the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor."
Yet it's doubtful the Osprey can carry the cannon at all.
Not 'rocket science'
Two weeks before Magnus spoke to Congress, lifting the howitzer was on the agenda at a meeting of V-22 program managers at Patuxent River Naval Air Station. At that meeting, Mike Merritt of Jahn Corp., an Osprey subcontractor, outlined the "increasing level of technical issues" facing the program, internal documents show.
More titanium hydraulic tubes were failing in testing. There were more mission computer failures, in which the "root cause is elusive." There were failures in the fire suppression system, of which the long-term suitability is in doubt. Merritt wrote that the aircraft was at high risk of being late and not able to carry the 5-ton load.
The reason: The Osprey is getting heavier. The craft now weighs 33,400 pounds and will grow heavier as more demands are added. The need for stronger floors and an on-board gun, for example, will add a thousand pounds or more.
The Osprey cannot afford the extra pounds. The weight growth, combined with overstated projections about the Osprey's performance, means that the craft cannot carry enough fuel to lift the cannon and fly it 50 miles.
"They may have enough fuel to start the engine, they might even taxi, but they aren't going to pick up that howitzer," said Harry Dunn of Merritt Island, Fla., a retired Air Force colonel and engineer who is one of the program's biggest critics. "The low fuel lights will come on when you're still on the ground."
In fact, the Osprey has never carried the lightweight artillery piece. In 1999, it lifted a 9,300-pound prototype off the ground. The aircraft never flew anywhere and set it down after hovering for 25 minutes.
To pass the tests for external lift, the V-22 program had the Osprey lift a concrete slab weighing 11,300 pounds, at sea level, and fly around the New River Marine Air Station. The concrete slab test was unrealistic, said Carlton Meyer of Richmond, Calif., a former Marine officer and publisher of the online warfare magazine g2mil.com.
The concrete slab has much less aerodynamic drag than the howitzer, which almost doubles the drag of the aircraft, experts say.
Lifting the howitzer and carrying it 50 miles is not a complicated test, Meyer said. Other flight tests are complex or more involved, such as determining how fast the aircraft can descend without losing control, or testing the Osprey aboard a ship.
"Either you can do it, or you can't," Meyer said. "This isn't rocket science. Obviously, they are avoiding it. If they did 10 or 20 loads in one day, from point A to point B, I'll be very happy."
Program officials say the external lift tests are scheduled to be conducted in late 2004.
How many Marines fit?
Some doubt that the Osprey can accomplish another core mission: carrying 24 fully-equipped Marines into battle. The inside of the Osprey is smaller than the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter, which has room for 24.
The close quarters drew some critical comments from crew members during test flights in 1999 and 2000, according to excerpts from a database maintained by the Commander Navy Operational Test and Evaluation Force:
* "Knees are intertwined together. Backpacks are on top of knees. ... In my opinion, egressing in the water will be an absolute disaster."
* "Not enough room for 24 combat ready troops and air crew."
* "Crowded cabin conditions and unfriendly design of seat belts eats up an unacceptable amount of time in loading troops."
Philip Coyle, the Pentagon's chief weapons tester during the 1990s, said even the Marines' grit and can-do spirit can't make the cramped cabin fit 24 Marines with their rucksacks and weapons.
"They may have come close, but they can't do 24," Coyle said. "They may have done 18."
The General Accounting Office, Congress' watchdog, says 15 to 18 combat Marines might be the limit.
Fuel tank falls short
The Marines plan to send the Osprey into trouble spots anywhere in the world, on its own, within hours. To gain this global reach, Marines will install an auxiliary fuel tank inside the V-22 to allow it to fly 2,100 nautical miles with one aerial refueling.
The Osprey performed this flight in 1999, but with an auxiliary tank likely to leak or explode in a crash landing. Since then, the program has been unable to develop an effective, crashworthy fuel tank.
The extra tank throws the Osprey out of balance, Merritt's presentation said.
Even without the auxiliary tank, the small center of gravity requires delicate movements in the plane. When fast-roping out the back ramp, Marines must move methodically in small groups, waiting for each to hit the ground before the next group leaves its seats.
Without a suitable auxiliary tank, the Osprey falls about 400 miles short of its 2,100-mile self-deployment mission, according to Merritt's report. The shorter range puts the Osprey closer in league with helicopters and makes two refuelings necessary to reach Europe or Hawaii from the United States.
Meanwhile, the Marines will keep using the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter. Most are older than the pilots flying them. When the last one rolled off the assembly line in February 1971, it could carry 24 Marines or 5 tons in a sling.
Time has has taken its toll. Combat, crashes and age have whittled the original fleet of 600 down to 228.
The Marines have overhauled the Sea Knights with new parts and systems, but the basic frame remains. Decades of structural and metal fatigue have limited the Sea Knight to 14 passengers or 2 tons externally.
Still, the Sea Knight flies on. Marine pilots flew several earlier this month as part of the Special Forces rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who was held captive in an Iraqi hospital. One helicopter snagged a heavy support cable on a radio antenna near the hospital and almost crashed. The pilot regained control after 15 seconds and was able to deliver a squad of Army Rangers to the hospital.
The Marines began planning to replace the Sea Knight in early 1978. The first contract for the tilt-rotor was awarded in 1983. Even program officials acknowledge that the V-22 may be the longest developmental program in military history.
Congress has the final say whether a weapons system gets money. From year to year, the Department of Defense proposes the programs it wants funded. The Defense Acquisition Board will meet May 20 to decide whether the Osprey program should receive an additional year's funding of $1.8 billion.
Please name a military aircraft with a better record during testing or operation?
The Chinook that it is to replace killed a slew of people during testing and it still kills people in accidents. Witness the 12 dead in the accident caught on camera in Iraq by Ollie North's crew. F-111's crashed regularly in their first few years, and still crash occassionally. How many Blackhawk's and Apache's have we lost to accidents in the last year? I remember rather dramatic pictures of a B-52 cartwheeling into an air base a couple of years ago. What is safe?
This aircraft is designed to replace an aging helicopter with a 1950's design that can't do the mission anymore. The troops want it, not just the brass. They want to be able to get out of dodge as quick as they can, and this craft may give them the best shot at that.
They don't call it going into harm's way for nothing.
That's untrue, first IOC date was 1992, set by the Milestone II Review in April of 1986 and that date became moot when Cheney made the mistake of cancelling the program, on the advice of a DOD accountant, a month after the first flight in April of 1989 and even before it had flown in fixed wing mode. Production of FSD was terminated in December of 1989. Neff shows his disingenuousness by failing to detail this as well as all the budget battles that ensued including the fact that Cheney was threatened with being sued by Congress because he illegally diverted funds appropriated for the Osprey to other projects. Low Rate Initial Production wasn't authorized until April of 1997. Plenty of other holes in the story and Neff again summons the ill-informed Harry Dunn.
I'd appreciate you posting a url so I can contact Neff and take him to task.
Osprey Is Not Failing Tests, Pax River Spokesman Says
April 29, 2003
By Associated Press
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. - A spokesman said Tuesday that the MV-22 Osprey program isn't failing key tests, despite comments by a former test official and an internal document that cast doubt on the program.
The Osprey, which lands and takes off like a helicopter and flies like an airplane, can carry more troops and fly farther and faster than helicopters now in use, the Marine Corps says.
"It is a safe airplane," said Ward Carroll, spokesman for the testing program at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md.
"It is not at all hogtied as some suggest. You want to take an airplane into a hot (landing zone), you want to go in an Osprey."
Carroll disputed comments and an internal document cited in reports Sunday by The News & Observer of Raleigh that said the aircraft had failed a test of hauling a 5-ton cannon slung beneath it while keeping balance and carrying enough fuel for a 2,100-mile trip.
Carroll said no such tests have been performed, The Daily News of Jacksonville reported Tuesday. He said the document wasn't a test result but an engineer issuing a caution not to make the aircraft too heavy. "Program engineers advise on certain issues," Carroll said. "It said if left unchecked, an increase in (aircraft) weight (could cause problems). Obviously a program manager doesn't allow that to happen."
"While there is a weight and performance trade-off when additional equipment is added to the Osprey such as sturdier oxygen tanks or heavier floorboards, this caution resulted in a false perception that aircraft had failed a test," Carroll said.
The current phase of developmental testing that began May 29, 2002, has nothing to do with the engineer's warning, he said.
"(The caution) was from a program engineer risk management slide (and) it's their job to track trends and flag things of concern," Carroll said. "You can't fail something you haven't flown yet."
In March, an official outlined an "increasing level of technical issues" facing the program, according to internal documents obtained by The News & Observer. The documents said the aircraft was at high risk of being late and not able to carry the 5-ton load because it was getting heavier.
The craft now weighs 33,400 pounds and will grow heavier as more demands are added, such as stronger floors for the on-board gun, the document said.
The latest tests, which could continue into 2004, typically include contractor test pilots putting the aircraft through its paces to gather performance data.
"We're addressing aeromechanical issues such and night flight, form flight, austere flight and icing," Carroll said.
The Osprey is scheduled to arrive at New River Marine Corps Air Station, N.C., this fall for flight testing. New River's recently created Marine Tiltrotor Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 22 will determine if the Osprey is suitable for fleet operations using Marine Corps pilots.
The squadron consists of 101 people who are expected to start work by Sept. 30. But the Osprey has been plagued by problems, from unreliable warning lights to catastrophic crashes that have killed 30, including 23 Marines in 2000.
In December 2000, an Osprey crashed in a forest near Jacksonville, killing all four Marines aboard. That crash was caused by a leak in the hydraulic lines, compounded by faulty flight control software.
The aircraft was grounded after that crash, just days before the Navy was scheduled to decide whether to move the V-22 into full production.
Testing was ordered after the crashes that led to a credibility problem when it was disclosed that the Osprey squadron commander at New River had ordered falsification of maintenance records.
Osprey Questions Arise - Bell, Navy Respond to Article
Bell, Navy Respond to Article
by: Greg Rohloff
Within a day of the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer publishing an article citing apparent flaws and high costs in the development of the V-22 Osprey, the Navy and Bell Helicopter produced talking points aimed at the article.
The V-22 Program office in Patuxent River, Md., said the article did not present a fair or accurate representation of the program.
Ward Carroll, program spokesman, said the test program has been aimed at correcting problems that led to two fatal crashes in 2000. Those crashes led to a grounding of the aircraft and slowed the decision on whether it would move to full development.
When the Pentagon's Defense Acquisition Board meets May 20, the program expects to answer questions about correcting those problems that led to the grounding, Carroll said.
As for the article's contention that the Osprey has failed carrying a 5-ton cannon and the aircraft's ability to keep its balance with a full fuel load plus auxiliary tanks, Carroll said those were two areas that have yet to be tested.
The Osprey is built by a partnership of Boeing and Bell Helicopter, and is assembled at Amarillo, where employment now has grown to more than 500.
Roger Williams, director of administration at the Amarillo Tiltrotor Assembly Center, deferred comment on the article to corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, noting though, that aircraft No. 23 was ready for flight tests later this week, and that aircraft No. 34, the first with all the modifications brought about by testing, was getting ready for flight tests in the hangar.
Following are points made by Bell and the V-22 Program office in response to the Raleigh newspaper article: The requirement is to carry a 10,000-pound payload 50 nautical miles at 3,000 feet MSL, 91.5 degrees Faherenheit, in no wind conditions. The V-22 meets this requirement.
Mr. Neff (Raleigh News & Observer reporter Joseph Neff) has been presented the actual and current test data with regard to V-22 vortex ring state and asymmetric loss of thrust. In fact, he was the first reporter to see this data. The test data shows that it is more difficult (much higher descent rates are required) for a V-22 to enter vortex ring state, and it has a more responsive recovery technique.
The probability of a dual engine failure within the same one-hour period has been assessed as 1 in 10 billion. Pilot procedures require the pilot to transition to airplane mode immediately after experiencing a single engine failure. Having done so, the aircraft is in the best configuration and energy state to perform a fixed wing glide approach to an emergency landing site, should the second engine fail.
During the previous OPEVAL (operations evaluation tests), 24 combat loaded Marines were flown in the MV-22. Ingress and egress were demonstrated without difficulty.
The program is developing a 430-gallon auxiliary tank by Robertson, the same company that makes all helicopter auxiliary tanks. The tanks will be fully qualified.