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Oct 10, 2007

Comments

G.J.

"The following excellent, concise assessment of the MV-22 program was written by Les Horn, a retired Naval aviator, following a series of articles about the aircraft’s deployment to Iraq."

Far from an excellent assessment, Horn makes several mistakes and incorrect assumptions. A retired Naval aviator should know better than to trust publications like Time, et al. Based on POGO's documented history of not telling the truth about the Osprey and parroting myths and lies about the aircraft, it's easy to see why they are championing this piece as "excellent". Just as the sun rises in the east we can count on POGO to be perpetuating garbage generated by hack journalists about the V-22.

"Autorotation. I talked with a number of helo drivers I know. All condemned the elimination of the V-22's autorotation capability. They see it as an unacceptable compromise of safety to meet cost & weight targets of an inherently flawed design. One helo driver -- disabled twice by enemy gunfire in 'Nam, is alive today (he sez) only because he was able to autorotate to a safe landing."

One would need to know the specifics of Horn's anecdotal evidence regaridng autorotations before giving them any creedence. While helicopters can attempt to autorotate, there is no guarantee, as evidenced by the number of failed autorotations in Iraq and Afghanistan, that said autorotations will be successful. I suggest that Horn do some research and tell us how many autorotation attempts of military rotary winged platforms do not result in Class A Mishaps. As a retired Naval aviator he no doubt knows where he can readily get that data from.

"Cost Benefit Trade-off. You can buy ten H-46s for the cost of one V-22, yet the H-46 can carry more than twice the personnel and has twice the cargo weight/cube capacity of the Osprey."

Horn is confused and quite mistaken. The H-46 is no longer in production; Kawasaki stopped production of their license built models over 15 years ago and the Marine Corps took delivery of their last new build Sea Knight in March of 1971, so the high cost of reestablishing the line needs to be factored into his flawed calculations. I doubt Horn has any idea of what the cost to reestablish the H-53 line to produce the K model is going to be. Even when brand new the H-46 could not carry anywhere near the same payload as the Osprey and the Sea Knight's lift capacity has been greatly reduced in the 30+ years they've been in service.

"Air Order of Battle. The V-22 has a Deck Multiple of 2.2, compared to 1.0 for the F/A-18A/B, 1.2 for the F-18E/F, and 2.0 for the H-46. Irrespective of the insurmountable cost "barrier," how many V-22's could actually be deployed on our-ever diminishing inventory of available deck space? Given the V-22's reduced carrying capacity, what does that portend for the Marine Corp's capability to project offensive force inland from offshore platforms? The obvious answer is that by embracing this platform, the Marines have abandoned the classical concept of "Vertical Envelopment," and the V-22 will be consigned to limited special forces-type insertions, or to low cost-benefit logistic support into low threat AORs. Face it --we will never be able to build & deploy enough of these platforms to make any real difference in a pitched battle against a determined and well equipped adversary."

Horn is mistaken yet again. Currently the H-46, on a good day, is limited to a payload of a maximum of eight combat equipped Marines or about one ton. I suggest the retired Naval aviator take a trip to the Med aboard a LHA/LHD, strap himself into a CH-46E and patiently wait while it sits on the deck for 20-30 minutes burning off fuel so it can reach liftoff weight or he can help the crewchief off-load ammunition/cargo to get down to max liftoff weight. Horn needs to familiarize himself with OMFTS too and try to comprehend how the V-22 fits into Marine Corps doctrine. A squadron of ten MV-22s deployed aboard a LHA/LHD has a personnel lift capacity of 240 grunts. It would take 30 H-46s; the aviation combat element of a deployed MEU is equipped with 12 Sea Knights, with much reduced range, speed and survivability, to replicate that same capacity and Horn makes no mention of the great time differential between the two to execute the same mission. I doubt Horn knows much about the current TO or the operation of the aviation combat element of an embarked MEU.

"Survivability. Many unacceptable trade-offs & compromises:"

I doubt Horn knows much about the greatly reduced RCS, IR signature, acoustic signature and the extensive ballistics testing that the Osprey has been subjected to. It provides much greater survivability than the legacy platforms it will be replacing. I also doubt Horn understands what happens to a H-46, a 30+ year old platform that he touts, when it loses an engine or synchronization shaft.

"Exposure: A large, tender target during ground insertions, with excessive time on deck required to debark combat loads. For example, the light, thin-walled fuselage construction (another weight-saving measure), lacks sufficient strength for conventional tie-down hardpoints; consequently, twenty-four (24) tethers required to safely secure one lightweight specially designed wheeled vehicle. Over three to seven minutes have been required in OPEVAL demos to unhitch and clear all tethers -- forcing the aircraft to remain on deck in a highly vulnerable configuration, without sufficient self protection (as reported in the Time article) for a dangerously long time."

The Osprey can ingress/egress a LZ faster than either legacy platform it is replacing. I doubt Horn realizes that the Osprey can accelerate from 0-220 KIAS or decelerate from 220-0 KIAS in 12 seconds. Again, ballistics testing proves that Horn quite simply doesn't know what he is talking about and referencing the poorly written Time article exposes him as relying on subjective, poorly written, dishonest sources.

"Pilot Acceptance: The favorable reports you mentioned are understandable and predictable. Few military pilots would turn down the opportunity to fly such a high viz, new production platform, or concede any doubts they may harbor about its operational challenges and flight limitations. (Consider how the Marines still proudly uphold their commitments to the Harrier, despite an accident rate exceeded by only a few modern warbirds, such as the ME-193!)"

Horn fails to disclose the number of pilots who are bolting the Osprey program due to their concerns over the aircraft and also fails to admit the frankness embodied in Marine Corps aviators who aren't shy about speaking up when things don't jibe. Playing the Harrier card is another indicator of how weak Horn's arguments are. Rather than engage in yellow journalism, I suggest Horn do a little research into the accident rates of high performance aircraft such as the F-102, F-8, F-4, A-4 and F-14 in comparison. Maybe Horn could engage in some edification and learn how many fatalities and Class A mishaps have been associated with the H-60; the platform that Cheney and Chu tried to force on the Marine Corps, since it achieved IOC.

"The V-22, (like the F-22, the F-35, and the forced retirement of the F-14) speak loudly of all that is wrong with DoD's aircraft acquisition process."

Finally, Horn writes something that is correct especially regarding those inept buffoons at NAVAIR. Were he to generate a comprehensive, objective piece on those characters it might actually be worth reading unlike his poor effort posted here.

Ben

Comparing the V-22 program with the F-22 is not only an irresponsible but uninformed comparison with regards to cost overruns and time-to-field. Although I am all for the stated overhaul of the DoD acquisition system (don't think there hasn't been someone pushing for that since the system's inception), the two programs couldn't be more dissimilar with regards to product delivered and mission met. THis just stinks of inter-service beef to me, and along with other controversial statements by said former aviator, impugns his credibility to make further assessments on this topic.

Craig

CH-46 Trade off: The 46's are carrying 8-10 troops now!!! and can barely get 3k lbs off the deck! Those engines and airframes are worn out. The last one that I flew on had the fwd hat splitting off and the 410 had a 2" hole in it!!
AOB: the V-22 folds and neatly fits onto ship in the same fashion that CH-46's did.
Armor: You don't need as much when you can fly at 25k vice CH-46 at 10k. Redundancy: Come on! much more than any helo I know of! Exposure: reduced significantly when you're flying at 240-260 kts vice 110; and not a factor when your range allows you to go around hostiles. "Combat equippage?": the cargo space of a V-22 is same envelope as a CH-46 - check your stats - that's ACQ101... and it outfits newer and better gear. Pilot Acceptance: You're quite the opposite - many reluctantly transition from CH-46's to V-22's - the "phrogs forever" mentality is stronger than commitment to duty. All that is waved off when transition pilots realize the CAPABILITIES of this aircraft. Don't be a dog to the naysayer... Even the CH-46 was reluctantly accepted, but back then they didn't have to deal with so much media spin.

BillL

I wonder how many civil war cannons you could buy for the cost of one V-22? It's easy to compare the V-22 unfavorably to existing, seasoned equivalents. A more objective comparison would be with the first helecopter to fly for the military. I'm sure there were many narrow-minded doubters of that invention as well.

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