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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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By Hokum on 1/23/2007 7:44:57 AM , Rating: 2
Range of the HM1 Merlin is 863 miles and the V-22 1011 miles. I was looking at ferry range. The 2000 mile range you quote is with refueling...

By Ringold on 1/23/2007 8:35:44 PM , Rating: 2
Boeing says..

2,289nm self-deployment range, 638nm range for assault.

I would interpret that to mean that at empty weight (crew 3, full fuel, standard cruise), it could fly directly 2289nm. Fully loaded to maximum gross TO weight, one would assume the assault range is actually a radius meaning the V22 could fly 638nm, deploy its troops/cargo, and then return. The fact it adds up to only 1276nm reflects the much heavier weight plus the time and fuel burned to descend, hover while deploying, then powering back up to altitude. Both scenarios probably include 15-30min reserve fuel and slight padding if they follow civil aeronautical conventions, which would give them around 100nm wiggle room. Refueling range should be virtually unlimited; if their turboprop's can't sustain more than 2000nm of operation as you stated, which would be just 6.6hrs, then their design would be extremely flawed.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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