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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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concept vs reality
By Cascaderanger on 1/23/2007 5:28:07 PM , Rating: 2
The idea of a VTOL craft with vastly improved cruising speed and range is what captured folks (including the Marines) interest in the late 80's. Who wouldn't like the vertical lifting capacity of a CH-46 or -53, w/ C-130 speeds and ranges? I think it would be a great SAR platform.

Spendy? You bet. But it would be worth it if they can solve the reliability issues.

I can see where mounting guns would cost you cargo volume, but I disagree that it can't be done safely. The Germans figured out the interrupter-gear to sychronize gunfire through a propeller in WW-I. The Russians put mechanical templates to limit arcs of fire on their cannon-armed bombers in the early jet age. I've never read of a top-turret gunner on a B-17, B-24, or any WW-II bomber shooting off the tail or wingtip of his own plane?

Some form of reliable mechanical, or electro-mechanical interrupter template should do it.




RE: concept vs reality
By Ringold on 1/23/2007 8:40:50 PM , Rating: 2
It could be an issue with the airframe if they originally designed it without making an allowance for it I suppose.. but yeah. I didn't see the problem with gunners taking out their own engines either.. They're big, they're loud, and they're always in the same position in the window. One would think training alone with mitigate the risk..


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