Okinawa seeks to block Osprey deployment
Friday, July 15, 2011
NAHA, Okinawa Pref. — The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly adopted a resolution Thursday demanding that Tokyo and Washington cancel the planned deployment of MV-22 Osprey aircraft at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
The assembly stressed the risks surrounding the vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, referring to the "many casualties in repeated (test flight) crashes at its development stage" and that the deployment goes "against the effort to eliminate dangers" at the Futenma base.
Air show: A tilt-rotor Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey flies over U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego in June. KYODO PHOTO
Osprey flights were suspended from January 2001 to May 2002 due to test flight crashes.
The assembly also strongly criticized the central government for playing down the risks involved, and accused Tokyo of "ignoring human rights and the lives of Okinawa locals."
(Source: The Japan Times)
The V-22 is Safer Than Helos, Effective, Says Man Who Wrote the Book
By Richard Whittle
Published: August 09, 2011
I commissioned this story from one of the foremost -- if not the foremost -- independent authorities on the V-22 because I thought it important to address the basic question: is the V-22 worth the lives and treasure it has cost America? The answer by reporter Richard Whittle -- the man who literally wrote the book on the Osprey -- is a resounding yes. That yes, I believe, should be taken note of by those less expert who reside at august institutions such as the New York Times, who persist in viewing the V-22 as a "troubled" aircraft. But enough of that. Read Richard's piece for as close to ground truth on this issue as we are likely to get. The editor.
Once upon a time, the evil ogres of the military-industrial complex spawned a mutant flying machine, a freakish helicopter-airplane hybrid so dangerous and costly it deserved to die. Yet tribes of pork-addicted toadies and blind intellectual dwarfs shielded the beast from knights in shining armor who sallied forth tirelessly -- heavily armed with GAO reports -- to slay it.
That's the fairy tale the V-22 Osprey's bitterest critics like to believe, but the facts about the tiltrotor transport, which the Marines fought a quarter of a century to get into service, tell a far happier story. This ugly duckling is turning out to be a swan.
The Marines and the Air Force Special Operations Command have been flying Ospreys in combat zones nearly four years now and they love them, for while the V-22 isn't a very pretty bird to look at, it has a graceful and extraordinary way of flying. It tilts two big rotors on its wingtips upward to take off and land like a helicopter but swivels them forward to fly like an airplane. That lets it cruise at nearly 290 miles an hour – more than twice as fast as military helicopters, whose top speeds are limited by the aerodynamics of rotors to about 140 to 175 mph.
By the time the Marines first put the Osprey into service in Iraq in 2007, though, it had cost more time, money and lives than any other piece of equipment the Corps has ever bought -- 25 years, $22 billion and 30 deaths in crashes during its development. The Osprey was a very ugly duckling.
Since then, the saga has taken a very different turn, but many of the Osprey's loudest critics – notable among them the New York Times editorial page – went to sleep in the middle of the story. In February, the Times declared that "the unsafe V-22 Osprey aircraft should...be scaled down now." In April, the Times again called for cutting the "accident-prone V-22 Osprey."
Labeling the Osprey "unsafe" and "accident-prone" could be justified a decade ago, when two of the three fatal crashes that occurred during its development had just occurred. Yes, that number is correct; there were only three fatal crashes before the Osprey went into service. Thirty people died in them because the Osprey is a troop carrier, and 19 Marines – 15 of them passengers – were killed in one star-crossed test flight alone. After the last of those terrible crashes, though, the Pentagon grounded the Osprey for 17 months – and fixed what was wrong with it.
As I described in The Dream Machine: The Untold History of the Notorious V-22 Osprey, between 2001 and 2005, the Osprey was redesigned and retested. Sloppily laid out hydraulic lines were rerouted, putting a stop to frequent and dangerous leaks. Flaws in flight control software, which in combination with a hydraulic leak had caused one fatal crash, were fixed. A trio of brave test pilots deliberately and repeatedly flew the Osprey into the little-understood aerodynamic condition that caused its worst crash and figured out how a pilot could get out of it. Cockpit warning devices were installed to keep future pilots from putting an Osprey into this "vortex ring state" in the first place.
The result is that Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., unwittingly spoke the truth in May when she futilely tried for the umpteenth time to cut the V-22 from the defense budget by arguing that the "Osprey's mishaps have become practically the stuff of legend."
"Legend" is the right word. Since Dec. 11, 2000, the Osprey has suffered one fatal accident – one in 11 years. On April 8, 2010, an Air Force V-22 hit the ground rolling half a mile short of its intended landing zone while carrying Army Rangers on a night raid in Afghanistan, then flipped over onto its back after its front wheels hit a ditch, killing four of the 22 souls aboard. Other than that, the only Osprey since 2000 to suffer a "Class A Mishap" – an accident causing fatalities, permanent disability or more than $2 million in damage – was a V-22 from the Marine training squadron in North Carolina that made an emergency landing on Nov. 6, 2007, after a dirt and dust filter at the mouth of one of its engines started a fire. No one was injured in the incident, and the design of the filter, known as an Engine Air Particle Separator, was subsequently modified.
Sadly, the helicopters the critics would buy instead of Ospreys can't claim such a sterling safety record. Compare the record of conventional helicopter safety with the Osprey. Since Oct. 1, 2001, the military has lost 405 helicopters worldwide at a cost of 583 American lives, and less than one third of those were brought down by enemy fire. Those figures include the 30 U.S. troops killed Aug. 6 when Taliban insurgents apparently shot down a CH-47 Chinook transport with a rocket-propelled grenade. The statistics also include 20 other American deaths since 2001 in six losses of CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters -- the primary aircraft the Marines are buying the Osprey to replace.
The redesigned, retested Osprey's safety record is so good that it's actually the safest rotorcraft the Marine Corps flies, based on Class A mishaps per 100,000 flight hours. Those are official Naval Safety Center statistics.
Given that record, anyone who calls the Osprey "unsafe" or "accident-prone" these days either hasn't bothered to learn the facts or is willfully ignoring them.d
One reason for the Osprey's great safety record is that while the Marines and Air Force have flown their V-22s for roughly 20,000 combat hours since 2007, not one has been shot down, though some in Afghanistan have been hit by 7.62mm rounds, the type fired by AK-47s, and they all returned to base safely. Why things don't happen is often impossible to prove, but one probable reason for this is that it may be harder to hit a V-22 than a helicopter with the sort of weapons at the Taliban's disposal. The Osprey takes off and lands much the same way as a helicopter but can get out of small arms range quickly when leaving a landing zone by converting to airplane flight and climbing. Marine Ospreys also spend most of their time in the air at 8,000 feet or more, well above most threats. Helicopters generally fly low in combat zones because they're slower, and hugging the ground makes it harder for the enemy to see them in time to shoot at them. Unlike flying above 8,000 feet, though, flying low doesn't make it impossible to get hit by small arms.
The Osprey's capabilities are saving lives in combat in other ways, too. Just ask the F-15E pilot who was picked up by an Osprey in Libya last March after bailing out of his aircraft. Two Marine V-22s sent from the USS Kearsarge covered the 150 or so miles between him and the ship in about 45 minutes and got him to safety before dictator Moammar Gaddafi's forces could find him.
The only valid reason to oppose the Osprey these days might be cost, but many of the V-22's critics have trouble keeping up with the facts on this point, too.
"The V-22 Osprey helicopter has been long hampered by cost overruns," the liberalish Center for American Progress declared in early July, repeating history as if it were current news. True, the Osprey suffered plenty of cost overruns when it was still an ugly duckling, and it cost a lot to correct its original inadequacies. But since 2008, when the Naval Air Systems Command signed a five-year contract with co-manufacturers Bell Helicopter and Boeing, the program has actually enjoyed substantial cost underruns -- savings Bell and Boeing project will amount to around $200 million over the life of the $10.9 billion deal, according to a senior official who's been briefed on the figures. Costs have come down because Bell and Boeing have learned how to make the aircraft more quickly, and thus cheaper, and NAVAIR has subjected the Osprey to a stringent cost reduction campaign.
On Aug. 4, Bell-Boeing gave the government a proposal for a second five-year contract to produce the last 122 Ospreys needed to give the Marines and Air Force the 410 those two services plan to buy between them. The price the companies offered is secret and subject to negotiation, but by law, the government can't sign such deals unless they offer "substantial savings" over a series of single-year contracts for the same period. By informal congressional fiat, "substantial savings" means at least 10 percent.
As the Marines, the Air Force, NAVAIR and Bell-Boeing gain more experience with the 21st Century Osprey, its operating expense is also coming down. Over the past year, its cost per flight hour declined from more than $11,000 an hour to about $9,500, according to Marine Col. Greg Masiello, the program manager at NAVAIR.
At this year's Paris Air Show, Masiello also unveiled an analysis showing that because of the Osprey's greater speed, which means greater range, it can be a far cheaper way to transport troops in a war zone than a utility helicopter, such as the Army's UH-60 Black Hawk, the alternative critics often advocate. According to this analysis, to carry a company of troops requires either four Ospreys or sixteen helicopters. The Ospreys could deliver those troops 250 nautical miles in one hop, but the helicopters would have to stop at a Forward Arming and Refueling Point, or FARP, which requires more people to operate and guard the facility and to deliver fuel to it via ground convoys. Add up all the expenses avoided by using four Ospreys instead of 16 helicopters and the savings are about $224 million, Masiello said.
Another internal Marine Corps analysis done last year that employs a measure of efficiency favored by civilian airlines – cost per seat mile, meaning cost per flight hour per passenger per mile – found that the Osprey's speed and range make it much cheaper on that basis than Marine Corps and Navy helicopters. Using the Osprey's fiscal 2010 flight hour cost of $11,651 per flight hour, this study pegged the 24-passenger V-22's cost per seat mile at $1.76 compared to $2.84 for the Navy's seven-passenger MH-60S Black Hawk, $3.17 for the 12-passenger CH-46 Sea Knight, and $3.12 for the 24-passenger CH-53E Super Stallion.
Against that background, foreign interest in buying Ospreys, which evaporated after the crashes of 2000, is warming up. Israel recently showed serious interest by sending a team of experts to New River Marine Corps Air Station in North Carolina to spend some time kicking the tires and flying the Osprey. Bell-Boeing says as many as a dozen nations may end up buying V-22s. This suggests that those who take the time to learn the latest facts about the Osprey are impressed. And that's no fairy tale.
(Source: AOL Defense)
|Senior Marine Moderator |
|Highly Experienced Member|
And at one time the AV-8 Harrier was flown on the east coast,,,,,,,, one being at Cherry Point during 1970.
Bullzhit, it was 1971.
Serving for love of family and country
PHS graduate takes to the skies as a U.S. Marine pilot
Gene Morris firstname.lastname@example.org
POSTED: 3:25 pm CDT September 6, 2011
HELMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Thousands of miles from Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, Adriane Frame spends her day taking care of Sade and Kylee in Jacksonville, N.C.
Adriane is expecting the family’s third child while, her husband, Nathan Frame, a 1999 Paola High School graduate, serves his country in Operation Enduring Freedom as a captain in the Marines.
She is a military wife — one of the often forgotten heroes back home.
“My wife is the unsung hero of my Marine Corps service, as are all military wives,” Nathan said. “My youngest daughter Kylee (5) has severe cerebral palsy and requires 24-hour care, but my wife, who is a registered nurse, has risen to the challenge in being her caregiver and advocate.
“It’s difficult enough to care for a severely handicapped child with two parents at home, but she has been amazing on her own,” he said. “She will give birth to our third child while I’m gone. She is an angel. Thank a veteran if you wish, but remember the amazing military spouses who allow our service men and women to do what they do.”
Nathan has been in the Marines for four years, earning his officer commission in 2007 after graduating from Kansas State University School of Technology and Aviation in Salina. He went through 12 weeks of officer training in Quantico, Va.
“Ever since I was 6 years old it has been my dream to be a military aviator,” he said. “I chose Marine aviation because of the reputation of the Corps and its emphasis on key values like ‘Honor, Courage and Commitment.’ I wanted the MV-22 Osprey and was fortunate enough to get my choice.
“I get to fly and land all over Afghanistan in support of our Marines and the Afghan people,” Nathan said. “All my life I’ve had the desire to serve my country, especially as a pilot, and having this opportunity is incredible. U.S. Marines are some of the best people you’ll ever meet or work with, and it’s been the honor of my life to be associated with and call myself a United States Marine.”
Nathan earned his wings in 2009, following two years of training in Pensacola, Fla. He was stationed in Jacksonville, N.C.
He was deployed to the Helman Province in Afghanistan two months ago with the VMM-162 (The Golden Eagles).
“I wanted to fly the Osprey because it was a new aircraft that was extremely unique,” Nathan said. “The mission of the Osprey is assault support, which means we carry Marines to the bad guys so they can take care of business. I wanted to be able to work closely with the Marines on the ground and the MV-22 was just the aircraft.
“The Osprey squadron transports Marines and cargo,” he said. “One day we’ll fly needed supplies to the forward operating bases in the Helman Province and the next day we’ll carry Marines to do a tactical insert. Some days, we’ll do a little of both. Having the opportunity to fly an $80 million aircraft is incredible.”
Capt. Nathan Frame, a 1999 Paola High School graduate, stands next to the MV-22 Osprey he flies for the US Marines. Frame is stationed at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan.
The MV-22 Osprey is a unique aircraft, the only one of its kind, with the ability to take off like a helicopter and rotate its engines and propellers forward to fly like a plane.
“This gives it the ability to land and take off in confined areas, but still have the speed and agility of a turbo-prop airplane,” Nathan said. “So, I can take off from Camp Leatherneck with Marines or supplies, climb up high in order to stay clear of small arms fire and transit at speeds up to 300 mph (two to three times faster and farther than any helicopter) and then quickly come down, convert back to helicopter mode and land in a small forward operating base.
“It’s tricky to fly at first, but once you get the hang of it, she flies beautifully,” he said.
By military standards, Nathan said he has it pretty good, compared to the soldiers on the ground.
“The Marines and soldiers on the ground are the ones interacting with the people and building bridges,” Nathan said. “I get to fly back to base every day and have a hot meal and a shower, while those Marines are out there patrolling in bad guy country in 140-degree temperatures and eating MRE’s (Meal Ready to Eat).
“These are young Marines who volunteered to serve their country, knowing full well they would go to war,” he said. “While their buddies back home are playing video games, these Marines are ensuring the fight stays in Afghanistan and not in our back yards. We take great pride in serving those Marines and try to go out of our way to assist them any way we can.”
Marine deployments range from seven months to one year.
Thanks to modern technology, Nathan can still be close to his wife Adriane and children, Sade (7) and Kylee (5).
“The hardest thing is the separation from family,” he said. “You get to watch your kids grow up through pictures and emails. My third child will be born while I’m gone, so my wife and I are getting the full Marine Corps experience.”
Nathan is the son of Eric and Lajeanne Frame, former Paola residents, who now reside in Durham, N.C.
(Source: The Miami County Republic)
Software Change Gives V-22 Pilots More Lift Options
A test team from the V-22 Joint Program Office spent about six weeks in Logan, Utah confirming that a small software change will result in more lift capability for the Osprey.
The actual change, which is barely observable to the eye, calls for the V-22 rotors to be tilted about four degrees outward. This change reduces the air flow from the rotors over the wings, which allows the V-22 to carry more weight and achieve greater overall performance in hover mode.
“We did see the performance gain from the software change that we expected,” said Trevor Strand, V-22 flight test engineer. “It gives the pilot more options. He can either carry more fuel, more troops, go to higher altitudes, or some combination of the three.”
Strand led the 30-person integrated test team (ITT) during the off-site test at the Logan-Cache Airport during July and August. The ITT flew 25 test flights in 31 days. This effort was the result of about two years of work by NAVAIR engineers to improve the hover performance of the V-22.
The software change that was measured and confirmed in Logan has already been implemented into some MV-22s. The plan is to upgrade all V-22s by the end of the year. The test team is currently updating performance documentation for V-22 operators.
The V-22 team averages about one off-site test event a year. Considerable research and planning goes into finding just the right spot.
“We don’t like to do all of our hover performance testing at sea level because the proprotor is not working at its maximum limits,” Strand said. “We don’t want to max out the engines at a very high altitude like 9,000 feet either so the ideal location is somewhere in between.”
At about 4,400 feet in elevation, Logan provided an ideal test location including the required wind conditions.
“It was one of the most successful off-sites that we’ve ever had,” Strand said.
The test team took one MV-22 Osprey to Logan for the test and it was available 100 percent of the time.
“The entire team did an outstanding job,” said Mike Caram, V-22 test manager. “It was a very productive off-site with a lot of great work on everyone's part.”
Ospreys demonstrate unique aerial capabilities in Belize
9/15/2011 By Lance Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point
BRITISH ARMY TRAINING SUPPORT UNIT, Belize — The MV-22 Osprey continues to prove its versatility and capability as one of the newest machines in the Marine Corps’ arsenal. Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 self-deployed to the small Central American country of Belize to conduct training this week demonstrating the Osprey’s enhanced utility over conventional helicopters.
First, the squadron demonstrated the Marine Corps’ ability to self-deploy. VMM-365 in conjunction with Marine Aerial Refueler Squadron 252 conducted long-range non-stop aerial refueling from MCAS New River to Belize. In doing so, they demonstrated the tiltrotor aircraft’s extraordinary capability to conduct over-the-horizon operations and deal with a variety of situations when called upon.
“We can fly non-stop from North Carolina all the way to the country of Belize without stopping on the ground, allowing us to deploy ourselves,” said Capt. Ryan E. Benes, a pilot for VMM-365. “We’ve done this multiple times where we’ve flown from North Carolina to Arizona and California with only the support of KC-130’s refueling us in air. With the self deploy aspect, we can launch from the United States and go anywhere they really need us.”
BRITISH ARMY TRAINING SUPPORT UNIT, Belize-An MV-22 Osprey with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 flies over Belive Sept. 10, 2011. In combat theaters, it is necessary to land at unimproved landing zones like this one in order to take Marines and their supplies to wherever they are needed on the battlefield. Practicing in the jungles of Belize is valuable training for the pilots for later battlefield missions., Lance Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki, 9/10/2011 2:28 PM
BRITISH ARMY TRAINING SUPPORT UNIT, Belize-An MV-22 Osprey with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 kicks up a dirt storm during a confined area landing at a dirt landing zone in Belize Sept. 10, 2011. In combat theaters, it is necessary to land at unimproved landing zones like this one in order to take Marines and their supplies to wherever they are needed on the battlefield. Practicing in the jungles of Belize is valuable training for the pilots for later battlefield missions., Lance Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki, 9/10/2011 2:44 PM
After arriving in Belize, VMM-365 began training its pilots and aircrew to the same high standards they do at home but with an added degree of Operational Risk Management.
“Planning a Deployment for Training outside of the Continental United States has some unique challenges that you don’t encounter when planning one in CONUS” said Lt. Col. Craig LeFlore, commanding officer of VMM-365 and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing detachment commander. “We are going to a country where this type of support has never been set up and the knowledge on how to set it up is limited. The things that you would normally take for granted to sustain your unit stateside has to either be carried with you or contracted through a husbandry agent. This isn’t too hard when you’re just dealing with people, but when you factor in the need to maintain aircraft and sustain flight operations it becomes quite a challenge.”
This DFT provides the crews of VMM-365 the opportunity to practice basic Training and Readiness maneuvers in a much more unforgiving environment. “We have a number of junior pilots and aircrew that need some basic Confined Area Landings, Low Altitude Training and Aerial Refueling experience before we deploy again this winter. This is a great opportunity to get out of our own back yard, out of our comfort zone and conduct some tremendous training in an unfamiliar territory. Here in Belize, there are no established LAT routes, so we have to make one, there are no designated MV-22 landing zones, so the pilots have to be selective when picking out where to land, and getting here was half the fun. Being able to aerial refuel long range over the water is just another opportunity to showcase the capabilities of the Osprey.”
The pilots practice confined area landings at landing zones in the Belizean jungle and Maya Mountains. In the mountains, they cannot afford to overshoot or come up short of a landing zone because of the ruggedness of the terrain.
According to Capt. Pete D. Benning, the officer in charge of the VMM-365 flight line Marines, this ability is used often when on deployment.
“Overseas in a combat zone, we do a lot of confined area landings any time we go out to a forward operating base to take Marines to or from the field or wherever we take their bullets, beans and band aids,” said Benning. “A confined area landing is pretty much any landing environment away from a runway or a prepared surface.” According to Capt. Pete D. Benning, the officer in charge of the VMM-365 flight line Marines, this skill is used often when on deploymentThe pilots also practice low altitude tactics; evasion techniques to avoid enemy fire. Because the Osprey is faster, more maneuverable and can fly higher, it has demonstrated itself as being a more survivable platform in a hostile environment.”
According to Benes, the Osprey was built to replace the CH-46 “Frog,” Helicopters typically fly at 500 feet, while the Osprey can fly at 10,000 feet to transport troops. Also, the Osprey can fly at about 280 knots, twice as fast as a normal helicopter, which makes it harder to hit at low altitudes.
Besides making it harder to hit, speed can also have a great impact on accomplishing time-sensitive missions.
“The sooner you can get an asset to the battlefield, the better outcome it will have,” Benes said. “If we get time sensitive information that there is a target that has to be prosecuted by Marines on the ground, we have the ability to get the Marines there twice as fast. If somebody needs to get extracted or if there’s a casualty evacuation, we can get there twice as fast and get them to a hospital that much faster as well. That’s a pretty big deal.”
Demonstrating their speed, VMM-365 flew the north-south distance of the country in about 50 minutes.
This is the first operation of its kind for an Osprey squadron in Belize. VMM-365 is spearheading an effort for more training opportunities for the Corps’ Osprey squadrons in this location.
Bell Explores New Missions for V-22 Tiltrotor
Aviation International News » October 2011
by Mark Huber
October 1, 2011, 11:30 PM
Bell Helicopter is exploring new markets and missions for its Bell-Boeing Osprey V-22 military tiltrotor.
The company recently demonstrated the V-22’s search-and-rescue (SAR) capabilities to the Canadian Forces. The V-22 is ideally suited to the SAR mission in Canada, with its vast distances and harsh environments, and could do the work of several aircraft on a typical mission, according to a Bell spokesman.
The spokesman said a Canadian civil/military SAR mission to a remote location currently involves the use of fixed-wing aircraft for identification and emergency supply drop and then a helicopter or a ground unit for rescue. “With the V-22 you can get there, land, pick up the people and come home, thereby eliminating a bunch of different steps,” he said.
Bell is touting its V-22 tiltrotor for search-and-rescue operations in Canada.
The Canadian SAR application for the V-22 is still in the “idea” stage and the Canadian government has not issued a formal request for proposal, said the spokesman.
Bell sees Canadian SAR as just one way the V-22 can cut overall mission cost by reducing the number of aircraft and supporting infrastructure needed to fly a given mission. The spokesman added that the U.S. Marine Corps’ fleet of MV-22s–with their increased range, unrefueled up to 1,000 nm, over a traditional helicopter–eliminate the need for forward fueling points. The MV-22 could also transfer cargo between multiple ship types in the U.S. Navy more efficiently than delivering expedited freight to aircraft carriers via fixed-wing cargo aircraft and then transferring it to helicopters for forwarding to smaller ships. The Marine Corps has already used an MV-22 for this purpose. On August 22 an MV-22 was used to airlift via sling load a 6,500-pound AV-8B Harrier replacement jet engine and container from the supply ship USNS Wally Schirra to the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan.
Bell is developing or has developed a variety of new applications for the V-22, including aerial refueling of other aircraft, cargo delivery, search-and-rescue, combat search-and-rescue, medevac and C2ISR. The V-22 already regularly performs cargo, SAR and evacuation missions. According to Bell, the CV-22 variant already has an approved medevac configuration using off-the-shelf parts, and Bell is working with the U.S. Army to further define a medevac interior. Bell is working on a “giver” V-22 aerial refueling package for fixed- and rotary-wing platforms and is collaborating with Thales to incorporate its Searchwater radar into the back of the aircraft. The aircraft is already equipped with an external hoist over the aft ramp. All of the various mission configurations can be palletized/modularized for quick-change, multi-mission capabilities.
The in-service fleet of 142 V-22s has accumulated 115,000 flight hours.
Service Leaders Defend MV-22, STOVL F-35B
By DAVE MAJUMDAR
Published: 2 Nov 2011 19:06
The U.S. industrial base will be severely and irreversibly damaged if unique aircraft such as the U.S. Marines' short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing F-35B stealth fighter and MV-22 tilt-rotor are terminated, the service's top uniformed leaders said.
"The two capabilities that are being solely built throughout the world, the only place it's being built is the United States of America, and that's tilt-rotor technology and that's the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing F-35B. There is not another nation in the world," said Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, testifying before Congress on Nov. 2. "If those lines were closed, that becomes terminal. That becomes irreversible. You will not be able to gain that back."
The same is true of Navy shipbuilding programs, Amos said.
U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Greenert said he was particularly concerned about the naval nuclear propulsion industry.
Although the F-35 is vital to the U.S. Defense Department's tactical fighter fleet, the country still has the F/A-18, F-16 and F-15E production lines, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, that service's deputy chief for operations, plans and requirements.
"In the near term, those are still part of the industrial base," he said.
But Carlisle said the Air Force must get the F-35 into service to recapitalize its fighter fleet.
"We have to have that airplane," he said. "As we continue to see success, I think I'll gain more and more confidence in our ability to let loose that industrial base."
Carlisle called the F-35 a "great" aircraft.
"I think it's making progress," he said.
Although the F-35's initial operational capability date may slip by up to two years to 2014 for the Marines, and 2018 for the Air Force and Navy, the test program for the aircraft is ahead of schedule for the year.
The Marines' F-35B has made huge strides since the jet was put on a two-year probation by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Recently, the F-35B aircraft completed a set of nearly flawless sea trials, said Marine Lt. Gen. Terry Robling, the Marine Corps' deputy commandant of aviation.
The F-35B is ahead of schedule on its flight-testing for the year, and the five major engineering problems with the plane have been solved, Amos said. Those fixes are either already installed on the test fleet or will be installed early next year, he said.
In an era of shrinking budgets, the addition of the F-35B to the naval aviation arsenal will effectively double the number of available aircraft carriers, Amos said. The large-deck amphibious assault ships essentially become small carriers with the F-35B embarked, he said.
Concerns about the jet blast from the F-35B's power engine damaging the assault ships' flight decks have proved unfounded, Amos said. Thus far, the analysis is showing "shockingly negligible" impact on the ship's deck, he said.
Marine Corps Continues To Support Ospreys
Oct 31, 2011
By Michael Fabey
The U.S. and its allies could not have conducted recent operations in Libya and other areas without the Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey, says Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos.
Amos cites the Tactical Recovery of Aircraft Personnel mission that an Osprey performed during Libyan operations to rescue an Air Force pilot after his F-15 was downed. The Osprey launched from the USS Kearsarge amphibious assault ship and returned with the pilot within about 90 min. — a feat, Amos says, no other aircraft could have completed.
Without the Osprey, he said during an Oct. 26 Washington Meetings Event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, “We’d be negotiating with Gadhafi for the release of that pilot.”
The aircraft’s speed, lift and flexibility have proven worth the investment so far, Amos says. He acknowledges the Marines made some development mistakes early with the Osprey program, underfunding the effort and trying to field an aircraft before it was ready to keep on schedule. The corps(sic) decided to focus on an “events-driven” and better-funded Osprey program and that has made the difference in deploying the aircraft in the past few years, he says.
The MV-22 has certainly been a funding priority over the past few years. Prime contractor Bell-Boeing Joint Project was the U.S. Navy’s 11th leading contractor between 1998 and 2009, with $5.9 billion in contracts and modifications, according to an exclusive Aviation Week Intelligence Network analysis of data aggregated by the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting.
The Pentagon’s fiscal 2012 budget request includes about $3 billion for the V-22 program, about $200 million more than the previous year.
House and Senate appropriators are not too far apart in their markup of fiscal 2012 budget lines for the Osprey. Of 10 research and procurement lines for the V-22 and CV-22, the Senate cut only two, most notably the Air Force research line, appropriating only half the $21 million request. The House bill cut it by one-fourth. The House’s other large cuts were 45% from Air Force V-22 advance procurement and 24% from Navy V-22 advance procurement.
But the big percentage cuts were to the small lines. Overall, the Osprey is largely untouched, since Navy and Air Force procurement account for 86% of the $3 billion total request. The House trimmed that by less than 2%, the Senate by less than 1%.
The Pentagon Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) agrees the Osprey program appears to be flying a truer course.
“The MV-22 demonstrated effectiveness in a wide range of approved high-altitude scenarios reflecting current Marine Corps operations,” the DOT&E notes in its most recent report, released earlier this year. “The enhanced chaff-and-flare system and the software improvements were effective.”
The DOT&E also reports, “The MV-22 met or exceeded thresholds for all reliability and maintainability requirements, with the exception of repair times for aborts. This shortfall did not materially affect the ability of the aircraft to meet its flying demands.”
However, the DOT&E notes a low mission-capable rate in testing and reports, “The aircraft’s ability to operate in high-altitude, unimproved landing zones was limited by the lack of an effective braking system and the inability to perform rolling takeoffs or landings. The radar altimeter was unstable in cluttered environments and demonstrated limited capability in urban and shipboard environments.”
Additionally, DOT&E says, the ice-protection system was again shown to be unreliable.
(Source: Aviation Week)
Just a note regarding our old nemesis Carlton Meyer. That s***bird posts at Aviation Week under the clever pseudonym "Carlo". In the comments section following the above mentioned article, "Carlo" takes a bulls*** shot at General Amos; he can't help himself. However, just as he was exposed making stuff up when we caught him here trying to pass off fabricated congressional testimony about the MV-22, he's once again exposed as a fraud at Aviation Week.
Remember, there is not now and never has been any credible "g2" at that pogue's blog.
Carlton is the same ole $hit eating dog he ever was. Nothing is new under the sun.
|Senior Marine Moderator |
Well Ron Mann, good to see ya back...
At age 236, Marines still our most capable force
Lt. Gen. John G. Castellaw, USMC (Retired)
Last March, U.S. Marines returned to the “shores of Tripoli” for the first time since fighting the Barbary pirates in 1805.
Marines flying AV-8B Harriers from USS Kearsarge struck Libyan targets, while Marine infantrymen in MV-22 Ospreys rescued an Air Force fighter pilot who had ejected from his F-15 Eagle. Along with brothers and sisters fighting in Afghanistan, with others afloat and ashore worldwide, those Marines continued to lay claim to being the nation’s most flexible and capable military force. We need to keep them that way.
In spite of our pending withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, the world is not a safer place. We can expect more violence to erupt in more locations around the world. Those who desire to do us ill are not going to lay down their arms just because we must cut defense to reduce the deficit. As we resize our defense budget, our country will continue to require a capable Marine force flexible enough to knock the door down and then sustain the fight by adding depth to the sister services.
The one indispensable weapon system for the Corps remains the Marine infantryman —the “grunt.” The grunt, the world’s most adaptable and lethal fighter, is the centerpiece around which a combined arms team of ground and air supporting systems are arrayed. If the equipment’s primary mission is not supporting the infantryman, then the Corps is not interested.
The primary purpose of Marine jet aircraft is to support the grunt on the ground with firepower, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, command and control. In Iraq’s Anbar, the combined ground and air power of the Marine Corps, provided the game-changing dynamics to defeat the insurgency. The same formula is working in Afghanistan.
This nation’s investment in the Marine Corps has been one of blood and treasure. Less than half of 1 percent of Americans serves in the all-voluntary military. A small number now fight our wars, suffer the wounds, endure family separations, and form the thin red line between us and those who would do us harm.
As a result, today’s Marine is the best fighter in the long and storied history of the Corps, in a force ready for an unsafe world.
It needs to be. Just as in the past, when peace seemed to be at hand, pundits are calling for reductions in personnel, benefits, retirement entitlements and veteran health care to save money and reduce the deficit. This time, the “experts” are saying we are going to bring our forces home; we will never fight another insurgency; that it is folly to think we would ever fight China; that we can slash the number of Marines and their equipment. The fact is our enemies have a vote on where and when we fight, just as they did in Korea and on 9/11. We must be ready.
Today, Nov. 10, 2011, is the 236th anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps in Tun Tavern in Philadelphia. From Guadalcanal to Anbar, history has shown our nation the value of the Marines as the highly capable, flexible, combined air-ground force always ready for the next gunfight, wherever and whenever it may occur. Right now, the issue is about dollars and cents. Tomorrow, it will be about our national security.
John Glad Castellaw retired in 2008 after 36 years in the Marine Corps. He is a member of the Consensus for American Security and president of the Crockett Policy Institute, a Tennessee policy and research think-tank.
(Source: The Tennessean)
Osprey in the Catbird Seat
By Lieutenant General Terry G. Robling, U.S. Marine Corps
Created 2011-10-31 08:49
The tiltrotor MV-22 has come of age. Moving larger payloads—faster and farther—it broadens Marine Corps capabilities and gives commanders more choices.
On 22 March, Marines returned to the shores of Tripoli. While in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn, an American F-15E fighter had gone down over Libya, and both crewmen had ejected. The rescue that followed was not only a textbook example of what the MV-22B Osprey brings to the fight, but also a testament to the agility, flexibility, and effectiveness of the Navy–Marine Corps expeditionary force. Whether ship- or land-based, the MV-22B has become a key component of that team.
The Osprey is a revolutionary machine, providing the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) commander the flexibility he needs to influence the battle space. The aircraft shrinks the battlefield, flying Marines higher, faster, and farther than ever, thus providing MAGTF and joint commanders unprecedented options in supporting ground forces. In the MV-22B Osprey, now on its 11th deployment, the Marine Corps has a truly groundbreaking aircraft. It has proved itself in combat to be operationally effective, safe, and survivable in the most difficult conditions—and cost effective. The Osprey is rewriting the art of the possible, and in concert with other newly fielded and soon-to-be-fielded aircraft, it is creating a new array of possibilities of what the Marine Corps can provide the nation and how it can meet all warfighting requirements.
A Record of Versatility
The V-22, in both its Marine (MV-22B) and Air Force Special Operations Command (CV-22) versions, has shown itself to be a tremendously versatile platform in both peace and war. Since its operational debut, the V-22 has conducted a variety of missions that demonstrate its multi-role capability. In Iraq and Afghanistan, combat-troop inserts and extracts as well as long-range battlefield logistics operations have showcased the aircraft’s speed and range, which are unrivaled by any previous rotorcraft. Raids against defended targets have shown that it is not just safe—it is survivable. We have conducted medical and casualty evacuation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, stability and security operations, and sea-based operations, all effectively and efficiently. Exploiting the V-22’s long range, aviators have flown it on multiple transatlantic crossings.
Examples of those missions are forthcoming—but first, back to Libya: In the middle of the night, less than two hours after that F-15E crew ejected over North Africa, two MV-22Bs, along with other elements of the Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel package—including organic AV-8B Harriers, CH-53E Sea Stallions with a quick-reaction force on board, and a Marine rescue force on board the Ospreys themselves—were turning up engines on board the USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) about 130 nautical miles from the downed fliers. The Ospreys launched into the darkness and closed the objective at an average speed of more than 260 knots, supported by Marine Corps and Air Force jets aloft of the downed pilot.
Once in the objective area, one Osprey landed, recovered the downed pilot, and departed—all within 90 seconds. Twenty minutes from the time he was running for his life in hostile North Africa, the aviator was safely back in American territory on board the Kearsarge. (The other F-15E crewman was located by friendly rebel forces, who saw to his safe passage and eventual recovery.)
Ground commanders and their Marines have seen what the Osprey can do: They have flown in the back of it, they have run down its ramp into landing zones in combat, and they have run up its ramp into the sanctuary the aircraft provides. Those Marines have one message for Marine aviation: We want more of these. They know that they can move three times as many Marines five times farther and twice as fast as they could move Marines on conventional helicopters. As they transit to the objective, those Marines are at elevations as high as 13,000 feet, out of the range of the rifles, heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades that are the weapons of the irregular fighter. The aircraft can carry 24 combat-loaded Marines to a combat radius of 325 nautical miles. By comparison, a CH-46E carrying half the available payload has a radius of 75 nautical miles.
The MV-22B is also amazingly quiet. A Marine rifle battalion commander in Afghanistan reported that as Ospreys delivering one of his companies to a raid objective spiraled down atop an enemy force, he watched startled fighters literally drop their weapons and scatter because the aircraft were right there—in the zone—before their approach was seen or heard.
In March, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) was given the order to redeploy its Afghanistan-based Ospreys to the Mediterranean. Using their aerial refueling capability and employing organic Marine KC-130J refuelers, the six MV-22Bs self-deployed in two waves of three more than 3,000 nautical miles, flying from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean, to recover on board the Kearsarge. Those Ospreys then turned promptly to operations at sea. That sort of dynamic re-tasking is what expeditionary forces do.
The range and speed of the aircraft widen the range of possibilities not only for the kinetic fight, but also across the range of military operations. When a patient on board the Kearsarge required medical support beyond the ship’s capability, for example, officers realized that the nearest site that could provide the required services was an onshore facility 500 nautical miles distant. A section of Ospreys was tapped to perform the mission, because, in the words of the MEU commander, “The V-22 is the only aviation asset that can bridge the long ship-to-shore expanse.”
In another instance, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 263, deployed in the USS Bataan (LHD-5), flew a casualty evacuation mission of 147 nautical miles in 37 minutes. In the words of a Bataan corpsman, “If it hadn’t been for the Osprey, there’s no way we could have gotten the patient to where she needed to be to receive the care that ultimately saved her life.”
The versatility of the platform was again illustrated in the Marine Corps’ humanitarian assistance/disaster relief role following the devastating Haiti earthquake in January 2010. The MV-22B reached multiple inland locations during one period of daylight, and again saved lives by carrying much-needed relief supplies and medical personnel into remote and isolated areas of the country.
Safety and Survivability
The following month the V-22 program as a whole—both Marine Corps and Special Operations Command airframes—exceeded 100,000 total flight hours. More important, the MV-22B crossed that milestone while maintaining a tremendous safety record: it had the lowest Class A flight-mishap rate of any Marine Corps tactical rotorcraft for the decade of January 2001–January 2011.
The Osprey’s performance record in Iraq from September 2007 to March 2009 is telling. During 18 months of combat operations the aircraft completed every assigned mission, and it did so flying faster, farther, and safer than its legacy counterparts. Despite being the target of enemy small arms, rocket-propelled grenades, and shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles on numerous occasions, none of more than 40,000 total passengers was injured in almost 9,000 hours of flight.
Likewise, in Afghanistan the MV-22B has been the target of small arms and RPG fires—and in some cases hit. In every instance, the aircraft has been able to safely continue and conclude its flight with no injuries to crew or embarked personnel.
Challenges and Opportunities
The MV-22B reached operational capability in June 2007. On the heels of that significant event it was decided to deploy the Osprey to war, fully one year before its planned material support date. That decision put additional stress on development of a logistics support infrastructure, but with the Marine Corps simultaneously committed in two conflicts there was no good reason to hold back this revolutionary capability from supporting those forces in combat. Simply put, it was the right thing to do.
As with any new aircraft, the Osprey had its share of setbacks over the course of development, including fatal flight-test crashes that caused many to call into question the program’s future. Far more commonplace, however, were the sort of logistical and technical hurdles routinely encountered in such projects, and especially when making a leap in aviation technology as we did with this aircraft. For example, in some cases engineering predictions for Osprey component service-life were inaccurate, problems that began being corrected once actual in-service data became available.
It is instructive to keep in mind, too, that although the program began in 1981, the V-22 community has flown nearly half of its total flight hours in just the past two years. Against a backdrop of rapidly increasing flight hours and multiple combat deployments—through which the aircraft has operated under the most rigorous environmental extremes—the Osprey is meeting the challenge. Aided by on-time and on-budget deliveries of aircraft since 2007, Ospreys are replacing the legacy CH-46E helicopter at a rate of two squadrons per year; the transition should be complete in 2017.
Critics of the V-22 frequently focus on procurement and operating costs. While it is true that the Osprey costs more than a legacy helicopter to buy and operate on a per-unit basis, the discussion shouldn’t end there. Operating experience with the Osprey has validated the multitude of studies undertaken during its development. Flying “twice as fast” and “five times as far” with “three times the payload” are not simply snappy talking points. They are direct expressions of value gained from every dollar spent procuring and operating the aircraft. Given current operating costs, the Osprey carries its payload more economically—on a dollar-per-passenger-mile basis—than any legacy rotorcraft currently in the Marine Corps inventory. Beyond the importance of cost and value of a military aircraft, however, is the protection afforded our nation’s most valuable assets, the passengers and crew. In the Osprey, they travel well above the range of the majority of currently utilized threat weapons, and therefore are safer than when carried by lower and slower helicopters.
Future Operations and Possibilities
In 1988, then-Commandant Al Gray asserted that “if I am a MEU commander off of North Carolina, I want every bad guy from Manhattan to Miami to be nervous.” What he meant was he wanted to be able to move swiftly hundreds of miles and then go over or around a defending force—or simply go where it was not. Aided by the capabilities of the MV-22B (and its sister aircraft the CV-22) the quantum leap in capability that he envisioned is now reality.
Today the United States faces a difficult fiscal environment. With declining defense budgets looming, a fresh, fact-based look at our tactical mobility requirements across the services may be in order, with an eye toward leveraging existing, proven, and currently fielded assets to fill current and projected operational gaps. In the long view, we have only begun to scratch the surface of exploiting the capabilities of the MV-22B. Its demonstrated multi-role capability may make this aircraft a potential candidate for other DOD and coalition requirements. The Osprey’s unparalleled success in the harsh deserts and mountains of Iraq and Afghanistan, the sea-based execution of the Libyan recovery mission, and its long-range self-deployment capabilities make it the aircraft best suited to effectively enter an equally demanding arena in the future—the ongoing battle of the budget.
Aviation in the Marine Corps exists—in the words of its first flier, Lieutenant Colonel Alfred A. Cunningham—to “assist the troops on the ground to successfully carry out their missions.” Marine Corps expeditionary operations will always center on the MAGTF, and Marine aviation therefore is inherently naval, expeditionary, and supportive to a ground force as part of a combined-arms team. Better technology is driving better tactics to provide lethality and battlefield mobility to that warfighter. The Osprey is just such a successful combining of tactics and technology. It will not be just a basic component of Marine Corps aviation; it will be the keystone of tomorrow’s air-ground task forces.
Lieutenant General Robling is Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation. He has commanded at the squadron, air group, air wing, and Marine Expeditionary Force levels. He has accumulated more than 5,200 hours in both tactical jet and rotary-wing aircraft, primarily in the F-4 Phantom and F/A-18 Hornet.
(Source: USNI Proceedings)
|Senior Marine Moderator |
How many Squadrons are still flying the 46?
Uncommon valor, uncommon award
12/20/2011 By Cpl. Abigail Brown, Marine Corps Air Station New River
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. — Four Marines from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 were awarded the Individual Action Air Medals with the combat distinguishing device, Dec. 16, for heroic actions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Capt. Thomas M. Keech, the mission pilot, Capt. Matthew A. Cave, co-pilot, Sgt. Justin K. Bartfield-Smith, aerial gunner and observer, and Cpl. John M. Cederholm, crew chief, were awarded the Air Medal for actions during a priority re-supply mission in support of 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, also known as Geronimo, June 12.
According to the summary of action, the mission took place in the Sangin River Valley, Afghanistan, after ground assets were unable to provide the necessary supplies to Geronimo due to many improvised explosive devices in the area.
Marines on the ground were sustaining heavy casualties and had already required several medical evacuations as well as escort air coverage. One of the escort AH-1W Cobras supporting Geronimo earlier that day had sustained damage from enemy forces to one of its main rotor blades.
Despite the danger, when VMM-264 got the call for help they were ready to answer. Keech, Cave, Bartfield-Smith and Cederholm, the aircrew of an MV-22B Osprey with VMM-264 prepared a plan of action to move supplies to the Marines in the fight.
After receiving intelligence that enemy forces were near the landing zone, the crew mounted a weapon system to the aircraft before launching on their mission.
“Intelligence painted a good picture, but we were flying into an unfamiliar place marked with smoke,” Keech said. “We weren’t sure what to expect.”
During their flight to pick up supplies, the crew test fired their ramp mounted weapon system.
As they neared their objective, the crew had to ensure their arrival wouldn’t compete with friendly escort aircraft that were directly overhead the landing zone, so they could integrate their aircraft into the objective area, Keech said.
As they hit the ground, the Marines received fire from insurgents hidden in the tree-line bordering the landing zone. Immediately, ground forces and aircraft overhead began to repel the enemy attack while the crew unloaded supplies.
As the unloading progressed, enemy fire increased, forcing the crew to immediately lift off. Before leaving the landing zone, they engaged the enemy with the ramp mounted weapon system.
This marked the first time an MV-22B had ever engaged enemy forces in Afghanistan.
“This was a humbling experience,” Cave commented. “You always hear of the ‘glory’ of battle, but it’s scary. You do your job and leave, so this medal is for those Marines on the ground.”
Other members of the crew felt the same about their role in the successful re-supply mission that day.
“I feel honored to receive this award, but any Marine in our unit would have done the same thing — we just happened to be on duty that day,” Bartfield-Smith said. “Everything we do is to support the ground troops.”
Due to the actions and adaptation of the air-crew that day, the Marines of 1st Bn., 5th Marine Regiment, were able to get their much needed supplies and the Osprey and crew returned unharmed.
12/20/2011 By Cpl. Abigail Brown
Marines from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 were awarded the Air Medal for heroic actions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Dec. 16. (From left to right) Cpl. John M. Cederholm, the mission crew chief, Sgt. Justin K. Bartfield-Smith, the mission aerial gunner and observer, Capt. Matthew A. Cave, the mission co-pilot, and Capt. Thomas M. Keech, the mission pilot, were recognized for actions during a priority re-supply mission in support of 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, in the Sangin River Valley, Afghanistan, June, 12. This mission was the first time an MV-22B had engaged an enemy in Afghanistan.
12/20/2011 By Cpl. Abigail Brown
Marines from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 congratulate (From right to left) Capt. Thomas M. Keech, pilot, Capt. Matthew A. Cave, co-pilot, Sgt. Justin K. Bartfield-Smith, aerial gunner and observer, and Cpl. John M. Cederholm, crew chief, after they were awarded the Air Medal, Dec. 16. The award was presented for the crew's conduct during a priority re-supply mission in support of 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, in the Sangin River Valley, Afghanistan, June, 12. This mission was the first time an MV-22B had engaged an enemy in Afghanistan.
12/20/2011 By Cpl. Abigail Brown
Marines from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 were awarded the Air Medal for heroic actions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Dec. 16. (From left to right) Capt. Thomas M. Keech, the mission pilot, Capt. Matthew A. Cave, the mission co-pilot, Sgt. Justin K. Bartfield-Smith, the mission aerial gunner and observer, and Cpl. John M. Cederholm, the mission crew chief, were awarded for actions during a priority re-supply mission in support of 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, in the Sangin River Valley, Afghanistan, June, 12. This mission was the first time an MV-22B had engaged an enemy in combat.
India sizes up V-22 Osprey
By: Greg Waldron Singapore
India has shown interest in the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, although it has not stated a formal requirement for the tiltrotor aircraft.
Boeing confirmed that it was "invited in-country to provide more information" on the V-22, but that it has not received "an official, written [request for information] from India".
In addition, Indian officials visited the V-22 aircraft during the Dubai air show in November 2011, where they asked questions about the aircraft.
The V-22 would be well suited to operations along India's vast Himalayan frontier, where high altitudes and long distances hinder helicopter operations.
At last year's Paris and Dubai air shows, Osprey representatives made much of a mountain rescue mission in June 2010 conducted by two US Air Force CV-22s. The aircraft flew a 1,290km (700nm) round-trip at 15,000ft (4,570m), landed amid mountainous terrain in dust storm conditions, collected 32 personnel and returned to base.
In response to a query about whether the V-22 could be fitted with a radar array for use on Indian aircraft carriers, Boeing said: "While AEW&C [airborne early warning and control] has been identified as a future mission well suited to the Osprey's performance profile and specifications, it is not a mission performed by current customers and it would be premature to speculate on what specific equipment would be utilised for that mission."
In 2010, the Indian navy requested information from Northrop Grumman on the E-2D Hawkeye AEW&C aircraft, which is capable of operating from aircraft carriers using steam catapults. This aircraft may not be suitable for current and planned Indian carriers, which rely on "ski-ramps" to launch aircraft. This restricts them to using airborne early warning helicopters, which are far less capable than their fixed-wing counterparts.
(Source: Flight International)
Corps seeks better weaponry on Ospreys
By James K. Sanborn - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Feb 13, 2012 9:00:41 EST
The Marine Corps is plotting how best to arm its prized MV-22 Ospreys for the missions and potential threats that await once combat ends in Afghanistan.
Today, in addition to a ramp-mounted machine gun, Osprey crews in the war zone have access to a bolt-on 7.62mm belly gun capable of providing “all quadrant” defense. It was procured as a short-term answer to the aircraft’s perceived vulnerability, but has not been used — even once — in the two years since first reaching Afghanistan.
There’s a good explanation for that, one commander says.
In Afghanistan, Marine tilt-rotor squadrons work in concert with helicopter gunships or fixed-wing fighters that act as armed bodyguards, of sorts, capable of providing fire support. That allows the Osprey to stay focused on transporting men and equipment, said Col. Christopher Seymour, commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 26 out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C. The belly gun has not been necessary, he said. In fact, many squadrons in Afghanistan fly without it because, at 800-plus pounds, it cuts into its cargo-carrying capability.
An Osprey can carry 12,000 pounds in 70-degree weather, but just 8,000 to 8,500 pounds when temperatures spike above 107 degrees. So with the belly gun in tow, the aircraft can carry fewer Marines and less water, ammo and food on resupply missions.
The belly gun is one component of what’s formally known as the Interim Defensive Weapon System, or IDWS, that also includes an infrared camera capable of target acquisition or surveillance and reconnaissance. There are eight in the Corps’ arsenal right now, and plans to field 24 more starting in June, officials said.
That plan might seem unnecessary, as the gun hasn’t seen any action during its two years in the war zone, but Seymour sees it playing a potentially significant role in time. As the Corps renews its emphasis on smaller-scale, expeditionary operations, future missions could include anti-piracy ops, personnel or hostage extraction and raids into foreign countries, he said. In such instances, Ospreys will operate more independently.
“We haven’t really had the opportunity yet to explore how we innovate the use of IDWS in those environments and mission sets,” Seymour said, calling it “a segue and an enabler” for future opportunities. “I don’t think we have discovered all the things we are going to be able to do with the IDWS.”
And Seymour was firm on this point: The Osprey will need its own firepower because it flies faster than the Corps’ other armed rotary-wing aircraft. MAG-26 is the Corps’ only all-Osprey group. It has one training squadron and six operational squadrons, which have made 14 combat deployments. When they have trained with the IDWS, it has shown to be accurate and powerful, Seymour said.
The infrared targeting system is aimed by a crew chief using a video game-like controller. Its video screen, however, was criticized early on by some gunners who claimed that trying to acquire targets as the Osprey maneuvered brought on feelings of nausea.
A Marine spokesman at the Pentagon, Capt. Brian Block, acknowledged there is anecdotal evidence that is true. But Seymour said he is unaware of such complaints. Air sickness, he said, can happen to any passenger or crewmember.
Block noted also that even though the IDWS belly gun has seen zero use in Afghanistan, the infrared camera has proved valuable on several missions as a reconnaissance and surveillance tool.
The Osprey’s speed, however, remains its biggest asset, Marine officials maintain. When flying in airplane mode, it can reach speeds of 350 mph. An AH-1W Super Cobra, by contrast, tops out at 170 mph.
But with the ability to travel faster and farther than any of the Corps’ armed helicopters, it will need a way to defend itself on long-range missions.
Ospreys could be tapped for operating in what Commandant Gen. Jim Amos describes as the “arc of instability.” This is a band stretching across the globe where small-scale conflicts could threaten U.S. interests. Countries range from Venezuela to Nigeria to the Philippines. During possible quick missions to these countries, the Osprey won’t always have the same fire support it does today in Afghanistan. And the Corps is planning accordingly.
Some of the new IDWS systems will soon see service during deployments with Marine expeditionary units. The 24th MEU, for example, employed belly-gun-equipped Ospreys for Bold Alligator 2012, a combined-arms exercise off the East Coast from Jan. 30 through Feb. 12. It was part of the unit’s pre-deployment certification. When its pump begins in the spring, the MEU will deploy to the Mediterranean and the Middle East regions, with IDWS in tow.
“I think where we are really going to make money with it is in that expeditionary or amphibious role,” Seymour said.
IDWS isn’t a permanent solution, however, and the Osprey could see the same evolution as the Vietnam-era Huey did. For now, the Osprey’s primary role remains assault support, Similarly, the Huey started out as a transport helo but later became a heavily armed gunship. That’s a possibility for the Osprey, Seymour said.
“I think the IDWS is the beginning of a lot of added capabilities onto a platform that is extremely unique,” he said.
Any next-generation weapons system is probably at least a decade away, Seymour predicted. But there are some ideas being evaluated.
“Nose guns, door guns, and nonlethal countermeasures are being studied,” Block said. “These systems are being evaluated as stand-alone systems and as systems in conjunction with the current ramp-mounted weapon system and IDWS, to provide a final solution to the V-22 all-quadrant defensive weapon system.”
Development of the new weapon system is a collaborative effort between the V-22 program office and the Advanced Tactical Aircraft Protection Systems program office at Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md., as well as the Naval Postgraduate School, based in Monterey Calif., and the Office of Naval Research headquartered in Arlington, Va.
As yet, there is no timeline for development, Block said.
(Source: Marine Corps Times)
US Marine Corps receives upgraded MV-22 Osprey
PATUXENT RIVER, MARYLAND (BNS): The US Marine Corps has taken delivery of an upgraded MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
The new Block C variant of the aircraft features new weather radar system that improves navigation in poor weather conditions, and a redesigned Environmental Conditioning System to enhance aircrew and troop comfort.
The new Electronic Warfare system on board the aircraft increases the Osprey's ability to defeat air-to-air and ground-to-air threats.
The Block C also provides greater situational awareness with enhanced cockpit and cabin displays, according to Boeing which, in partnership with Bell Helicopters, has developed the multirole combat aircraft for the Marine Corps and US Air Force.
The V-22 Osprey uses tiltrotor technology to combine the vertical performance of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft.
More than 160 Osprey tiltrotors are currently in operation.
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