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Jul 29, 2011

Comments

Dfens

Here is yet another example of how privatly funded development trumps US taxpayer funded defense contractor development. Can you imagine what a robotic point man development contract would cost us, and the decades upon decades it would take? Boggles the mind.

Dfens

Did I imply that Bell or Boeing might have dragged out the development of the V-22? That's positively indecent of me. I'm sure the fact that they make a profit on every day that development program dragged out is purely an unfortunate coincidence and that those contractors would have behaved exactly the same had it been all their own money they were spending. Certainly you all believe that, right? After all, if you can't believe a defense contractor only ever has the best interests of the US taxpayer at heart, who can you believe that about?

And really, it's stupid to try to put words in my mouth regarding what I've said about the S-97 when my statements are right here on this very page. You might have noticed that the X-2 is substantially faster than other helicopters. I don't know if that will be enough of an incentive to make the Army want to buy the S-97 which will likely also be very fast. The Department of Defense tends to prefer aircraft that have a procurement bureacracy built up around them as when they bought the F-16 and stiffed Northrop on the F-20 Tigershark despite the fact that Northrop was responding to President Carter's call for defense contractors to fund their own product development costs as a way to reduce military spending.

Ofens

Interesting how you assume that Bell/Boeing "dragged out development". Care to cite a source for this assumption outside of G2mil, the armpit of objective V22 coverage, or one of the myriad sites regurgitating its drivel? You might want to venture outside wikipedia for some of your information.

So lets compare the timelines, shall we? You seem to be intent on considering the X2/S97 a success without it ever progressing beyond the tech demonstrator stage. The only valid comparison you can make at this point would be to the XV15. The XV15 was proposed in 1973 and first flew in 1977. Work on the X2 design began in late 2004 and first flew in 2008, shockingly the same timeframe. Then unline the X2, the XV15 actually flew for years afterward and even made the airshow circuit. It was not until the it was productionized into the V22 and encountered program funding fluxuations did the development become "protracted". Not to mention the complete lack of a full size tiltrotor ever being produced prior to that point, whereas the X2 uses largely off the shelf helicopter components (a cost saving measure) and a configuration which has been studied for over 40 years.

Contrast the XV15 with the X2 which, since you are swallowing this "all internally funded" kool-aid wholesale, has yet to see any sort of customer requirement creep or funding and budget constraints. Its development was also not without a hitch, either. There were a handful of setbacks in the program, including the transmission almost eating itself in ground runs and a FBW system that was arguably never fully tuned. Not to mention one of the headlining features of the X2 over the XH59, the sail fairing, was never successfully flown, tested, or even installed. The spin, though, it that it was all rainbows and gummy bears.

If you believe the SAC hype, they have already lost money hand over foot, in the patriotic duty of service to the american taxpayer. Lets look at this whole situation with an objective lens. SAC, just like every other defense company recieves IRAD funding (I am sure you read Bob Cox's latest hit piece against Bell regarding the BA609 sale). To claim that sikorsky is not using re-funded IRAD money on technology development within the X2 rotor system and other "overlapping" technologies is pure naivete. The company money SAC IS investing is basically a hedged bet that they can use the whole "We funded it internally" card to obtain a contract for the AAS program. Its a calculated risk, and also why the first swing at a full sized X2 product is the S97 and NOT the 11000 lb GW civilian transport they planned on going after first back in 2006.

And I am a little confued about your frugality logic, and the statements of "not throwing money at defense contractors". If we follow that advice, the S97 is totally stillborn, because the Kiowa Warrior is by far statistically the most reliable and highly used combat helicopter in the armed forces. To replace that with an expensive, unproven, new S97 would be a taxpayer waste. At least, that was the argument you use against the V22.

Dfens

While the V-22 has crashed more than twice, your additional comments reflect the usual lack of a grasp on the actual point being made in this comparison of the X-2/S-97 and the V-22. The JVX program that lead to the development of the V-22 started in 1981. The aircraft first flew in 1989 and first crashed in 1991. Its long and sordid history of failure during flight test is adequately covered in many other places, but the one thing we could always count on was the fact that Bell and Boeing significantly increased their profit in every single year they dragged out the Development, Test, and Evaluation (DT&E) portion of their contract.

Sikorsky will only lose money if the S-97 development period drags out longer than the expected 18 months. Certainly they themselves would cancel the program long before there was any sign it might drag on for 3 decades. Apparently only the US taxpayer can afford to fund that much failure.

On the other hand, the US taxpayer -- aided by POGO in this case -- might just notice the difference in development times between these two programs. They might also notice the fact that for as long as this contractual conflict of interest has existed in DoD procurement that causes contractors to make more money on programs that have many problems and drag on for decades, the programs have indeed increased by at least an order of magnitude in both cost and schedule.

Who knows, maybe the sleeping giant will awaken. Maybe Republicans will realize that throwing money at defense only makes the problem worse. Maybe Democrats bent on containing defense expenditures will have their eyes opened to the opportunities to spend money elsewhere when the money spent by the pentagon is spent more effectively. Maybe the plain old American taxpayer will get mad as hell about being treated like and idiot and demand the system be reformed such that the contractors must fund their own weapons development programs the way they did during the Cold War. Or maybe we'll all just push the button on the remote and see what's on the next channel.

Ofens

Two high profile crashes seem to have doomed the V22 into "death trap" status, while similar historical crashes among other current "workhorse" helicopters go unnoticed in the modern media's strive to demonize the craft.

As you may or may not recall, the first S-70 (Blackhawk) prototype 73-21650 crashed in 1976 with 14 people on board who luckily survived, only for the exact same airframe to crash again in 1978 in Stratford killing 4 sikorsky employees. That was an entirely conventional helicopter. And can we even count how many TR failures and horrific crashes there have been with the CH53 series? Just ask the Israelis (and also sikorsky employees, who seldom like to talk about the CH53 that crashed on their flight line and killed a cabin full of engineers). Why do we now look on these helos with a foregone conclusion of safety?

Arguably the Marines and AFSOC guys dont love the aircraft itself (though I have met a few pilots who genuinely seem to). What they love is the capability it gives them, and the missions it allows them to perform with no other asset in their inventory.

The S97 MAY make a pretty good escort for the V22. What SAC does not like to talk about is twofold:
1. Its total lack of scalability into a gross weight above about 10-12000 lbs. The rotor system, aerodynamically could support a larger craft, but there is no feasable way to create a rotor blade at the span required with sufficient stiffness. It just isnt possible without some new supermaterial.
2. Fuel burn in high speed flight.

Dfens

Oh, sorry, it was 1955 when the first wingtip rotor VTOL X plane first flew, and not 1958 as I had thought. How that makes the V-22 more cutting edge is still quite mysterious. Maybe it's just me. Apparently as far as any of us know, the X-2 is still "the first aircraft to ever combine the pusher prop with counter rotating rotor technology", and by that measure is still more "cutting edge" than an aircraft configuration that first flew in 1955, no matter how much one might wish it were otherwise.

I'm sure all Marines "love" the V-22 and there is probably some statistic regarding the number of children of Marines who have been named "Osprey" in honor of that beloved aircraft (yes, I'm joking, but play along) even if no one can produce such relevant statistics, but it has killed a lot of crew members (34) for an airplane that only became operational in 2007.

Perhaps due to the great "love" the Marines have for this aircraft they have developed a blind spot for it's failures. I know "love" has made me a little soft in the head at times, though I think the "love" the Marines' procurement bureacracy has for it's continued existance (a manifestation the "love" the individual Marine bureacrats themselves have for their own jobs) probably has more to do with the continued existance of this sorry program than any human's "love" for the aircraft itself.

Ofens

Youre really showing your lack of subject matter expertise here, Dfens.

Wintip mounted "fans"? You consider the high twist rate rotors on the V22, which are much more akin to helicopter rotors than propeller blades, fans? You clearly have no grasp on the inner workings of VRS if you are trying to use the VZ-4 as some kind of case study in flight dynamics. Perhaps you should head back to wikipedia to try and further your "education" and brush up on your facts. Heres another little hint, in 1955 the Bell XV-3 was the first tilt rotor, not the VZ.

You also do realize that the X2 is the same layout and format of the XH-59A from the late 1960s, and SAC intended to have a pusher fan installed in the XH-59B all the way back in 1973. They could not secure army funding to pursue it.

To claim that a counter-rotating concept is more "technically advanced" than a tiltrotor is just plain asinine. Hiller had a design in 1945 (H-2-235) which was just that; a rigid counter rotating high hinge offset rotor system, precisely what the X2 uses. The addition of a pusher prop hardly propels the configuration into the "cutting edge" envelope.

As far as the V22 is concerned, if VRS is such a bane to its exsitance, then its AMAZING that it is now the statistically safest flying vehicle that the Marines operate, with over 110,000 hours in the field. And by the way, the Marines and AFSOC absolutely LOVE the V22. And just this month, the IAF is looking to get their hands on them as well.

So as far as "billions and billions wasted" goes, frankly I think thats a complete load of BS that I'd expect to read on the pages of drivel put out by Mr. Objectivity himself Bob Cox, or the entire G2mil website.

Dfens

The V-22 is by no means more technologically advanced than Sikorsky's X-2 or S-97 twin coaxial rotor pusher. In fact the the first VTOL aircraft built for the army with tilt rotors at the wingtips was the Doak VZ-4 that first flew in 1958. The Lockheed Cheyenne was the first helicopter I recall using a pusher prop, which it combined with their ridgid rotor technology in an aircraft that first flew in 1967. As far as I know the X-2 is the first aircraft to ever combine the pusher prop with counter rotating rotor technology. By that measure, the X-2/S-97 is not only a less costly to develop VTOL aircraft, but it is also a more advanced technology than that of the V-22.

It should be noted that one of the lessons learned from the Doak XV-4 was the fact that aircraft sporting this kind of wingtip mounted propulsion fan had a unique ring vortex state that made this approach undesireable. You'll notice that in the 1960's, VTOL went away from 2 fans/rotors configurations in favor of 4 fans/rotors. Unfortunately those lessons were lost on the V-22, along with billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars.

That said, thanks for highlighting my post. You are now hacking at the root of the waste these defense contractors have made so much money from. This is where the big money is, hiden in plain sight.

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