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The V-22 Osprey comes up short in desert testing

The last time we covered tilt-rotor aircraft, Bell Helicopter's TR918 Eagle Eye Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) received its FAA certification. The Eagle Eye weighed in at around one ton and featured a top speed of 250MPH.

Today, a report shows that a much larger scale tilt-rotor vehicle from Bell-Boeing is running into more trouble. The Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey has had a storied past including two prominent crashes during development that have killed a total of 23 Marines. These days, the Osprey is still getting flak for "poor aircraft availability" and "marginal operational availability" during 41 test flights this past summer.

The aircraft was lambasted in a recent annual report put forth by the U.S. Defense Department. "Frequent part and system failures, limited supply support, and high false alarm rates in the built-in diagnostic systems caused frequent flight delays and an excessive maintenance workload," claims the report.

Four Air Force CV-22 Osprey aircraft were assessed between June 6, 2006 and July, 10 2006 at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM. Many of the problems cited in the report stem from the aircraft's poor performance and serviceability in desert conditions. The Marine Corps version of the Osprey is likely to encounter similar performance and maintenance issues as the aircraft mainly differ in equipment packages offered.

The latest batch of issues is troubling to Philip Coyle, senior advisor for the Center for Defense Information. "This produces a maintenance and support burden that the Marines really can’t afford. All of the reliability problems that they continue to have here in the [United] States -- it’s going to drive them crazy overseas."

The V-22 Osprey has a maximum take-off weight of 47,500 pounds, a cruising speed of 246MPH and a top speed of 316MPH. The Air Force currently has plans to purchase 50 Ospreys while the Marine Corps has plans for 360 aircraft.



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To the Many Naysayers
By beepandbop on 1/22/2007 10:21:51 PM , Rating: 4
True, this project has had its ups and downs, but we need a new concept. This is to replace the CH-46 and CH-53 in the troop transport and it is much faster and more quickly able to take off. Any aircraft has had its difficulty. The fact that this project has taken so long is because its government funded, and its revolutionary. We had probs with the AV-8B and its doing a spanking job.
True, I'm rather befuddled about the lack of guns, but there is a gun at the back door, where our boys load in. The gun will lay down suppressive fire while the marines hop in. The later design will most likely have a Gatling gun attached at the nose. There are side panels, and guns may be positioned there in the future, but the gunners would have to be limited to shooting straight out and straight down and forward. They would be able to shoot at maybe a 35* angle to the left (looking from within the panel perspective), but it is plausible. Although many would think this thing being so revolutionary would have so more modern and cool defense systems, the vehicle is very fast, and able to perform a variety of missions.
Also, keep in mind, even though this thing is branded as "assault" what they really mean is insertion and extraction, meaning, this aircraft will dump troops on the ground, and then come back at rapid speeds and dump more. This thing will not totally supersede the CH-46, or -53, and there will be light gunships like the Huey and Cobra (and soon to be SuperCobra) to guard the thing, but remember, this aircraft never was meant to be completely self defensive or be a new type of gunship.
To be an optimist, this thing looks amazing, and quite necessary for rapid deployment, and on the pessimistic side, its accidents and problems might seem to out weigh the bad. Always remember though, nobody got no where by not trying new concepts.
I'm confident this new marine aircraft will serve the marines well.
If you're wondering how I know all this, I work at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, on MCAS Miramar base, and I seem train with these things, and they look pretty amazing.




RE: To the Many Naysayers
By kextyn on 1/23/2007 7:59:11 AM , Rating: 2
Don't expect to see any guns besides the one on the ramp. My brother has been working on them for years now and has told me of the problems with mounting weapons. The fact is there is NO room for any weapons. Unless they turn it into a gunship rather than a troop transport it's just not going to happen. Guns on the front wouldn't work because there is no room for the weapon or the ammunition, it's already packed full of everything it needs to fly. Guns on the side won't work because you would lose half of your troop capacity and you wouldn't be able to fire out to the side. You could only fire down at an angle and to the rear while it is in flight which doesn't do you much good. The times you want guns firing out the side is when you're hovering above troops or on the ground picking them up or dropping them off. You can't fire out to the side in these conditions because you would risk hitting the engines.


RE: To the Many Naysayers
By beepandbop on 1/23/2007 4:00:00 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but as I said before, this ship will be patrolled with Hueys and cobras, it won't be making solo trips, unless going in huge groups and waves.
So, theres not really any need for a gunship transport yet anyway.
Also, note that the CH-46 will also be providing cover as well, probably for the next 50 years.


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