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Bell-Boeing's MV-22 Osprey heads to Iraq
The MV-22 will have serve a seven month tour of duty in Iraq

Bell-Boeing's V-22 Osprey first took to the air nearly 20 years ago and the road to active duty has been a long one. When DailyTech last visited the tilt-rotor aircraft, the Air Force's CV-22 Osprey was criticized for its "poor aircraft availability" and "marginal operational availability" during desert testing at Kirkland Air Force Base.

"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," claimed the report which was released earlier this year.

"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," said Philip Coyle, senior advisor for the Center for Defense Information.

Despite the troubles, the U.S. Marines will be deploying seven of its similar MV-22 Ospreys to Iraq in September. The Marines are hoping that the Osprey’s speed will allow it to quickly transport troops and make it less of a target for insurgents than slower, traditional helicopters.

"It is our fervent feeling that this aircraft is the most capable, survivable aircraft that we carry our most important weapons system in, which is the Marine or rifleman," said Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, the deputy commandant for aviation for the Marines. "If you've ever gone rabbit hunting, you know that it's harder to shoot a rabbit that's running than the one that's sitting still."

The push for the Osprey to enter regular military service has been a long time coming. In 2007 alone, there have been six crashes involving U.S. helicopters in Iraq. The Osprey's enviable speed (top speed 316MPH), ability to take-off and land like a helicopter and an operating range that is three to five times that of traditional helicopters should make it a great workhorse during its seven month deployment.

The V-22 Osprey is destined to replace the Marines' CH-46 Sky King by 2018. When compared to the CH-46, the Osprey has a range that is three times farther and has six to seven times the survivability in the field.

The tilt-rotor aircraft has been in development for over 20 years at a cost of over $20 billion USD.

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RE: biggest waste of taxpayer's money EVER
By masher2 on 4/16/2007 1:07:02 PM , Rating: 5
Actually, in researching this it appears that the V-22 *is* able to do a fixed-wing glide in case of dual engine failure, and in fact has safely had to do just such an emergency landing already.

The danger condition appears to be loss of both engines, while configured for vertical lift, and while at an altitude of below 1,600 feet.

RE: biggest waste of taxpayer's money EVER
By Jafo79 on 4/16/2007 11:34:17 PM , Rating: 2
They key term here is able, and in this context able means with test pilots, under extremely controlled conditions, yes it is possible.

RE: biggest waste of taxpayer's money EVER
By Sunrise089 on 4/17/2007 3:23:30 AM , Rating: 2
I won't question your skills as a helicopter pilot, but you're looking at this the wrong way. This plane is SAFER than a helicopter. Maybe it cannot safely autogyrate down like a helicopter in all situations, but it can when above 1600ft. On the other hand, when in forward mode (which will be almost all the time) it can glide down like a plane. It is SAFER than a Blackhawk or the like - faster, able to glide, having multiple engines, etc.

RE: biggest waste of taxpayer's money EVER
By Jafo79 on 4/17/2007 4:22:49 AM , Rating: 2
RE: biggest waste of taxpayer's money EVER
By Sunrise089 on 4/17/2007 6:31:06 AM , Rating: 2
Thank you for the link, but I stand by what I said. The paper basically tries to analyze an AIRPLANE with standards applicable to helicopters. I understand the aircraft may not be perfect, but the distant possibility of a higher crash rate must be weighed against the far superior speed and glide abilites compared to a helicopter.

Honestly, the report would be like Guided Missle Cruiser crews protesting submarines because they are difficult to escape from. When viewed as a missle cruiser, a submarine is a death-trap. When viewed for what it is however, it's disadvantages can be understood in light of it's intended purpose.

The V22 Osprey is the same sort of umit. When viewed as a faster alternative to helicopters with better ability to avoid and evade hostile fire, it's inablity to possess helicopter safety features doesn't really matter.

RE: biggest waste of taxpayer's money EVER
By Jafo79 on 4/17/2007 1:01:10 PM , Rating: 2
The Osprey is going to be acting as a helicopter a large portion of the time and during this time It should be able to perform at least as safely as a helicopter. If all it were doing was acting like an airplane that's a different story. The Marines want to replace the tried and tested CH46 with the Osprey so it is absolutely appropriate to compare it to a helicopter. The thing is just not safe and is vulnerable to VRS (vortex ring state) in ways that a helicopter IS NOT. See here:

RE: biggest waste of taxpayer's money EVER
By masher2 on 4/17/2007 1:20:56 PM , Rating: 2
> "The thing is just not safe and is vulnerable to VRS (vortex ring state) in ways that a helicopter IS NOT..."

According to testing after the VRS accident, the Osprey is less susceptible to VRS than a normal helo, and recovers more easily from it. Here's a link to a story from some info, along with some interviews with actual Osprey pilots...who are all big fans of the craft, BTW.

RE: biggest waste of taxpayer's money EVER
By Jafo79 on 4/17/2007 3:20:03 PM , Rating: 2
They flew the thing to 10,000ft! Notice that no where does he make any comparisons to a helicopter and also this is the critical bit.
He also found that in an Osprey, he could recover from the condition relatively easily, provided he had 2,000 feet of altitude to play with
In the real world you won't always have that. This was under controlled conditions. Now load that thing up to gross weight, increase the temperature to about 120deg bring it down to realistic mission altitudes and things change dramatically

By masher2 on 4/17/2007 3:40:47 PM , Rating: 2
> "In the real world you won't always have that..."

No one is disputing that. In the real world, even normal helos often crash during autorotate attempts. But the fact remains that the vast majority of an Osprey's flight time will be either above this floor, or while configured for forward flight...and in both cases, its able to do a powerless emergency landing.

By Jafo79 on 4/17/2007 1:05:34 PM , Rating: 2

If there weren't so many killed this story would have been funny.
Following established procedures, when the reset button on the Osprey's primary flight control system lit up, one of the pilots — either Lt. Col. Mi-chael Murphy or Lt. Col. Keith Sweaney — pushed it. Nothing happened. But as the button was pushed eight to 10 times in 20 seconds, a software failure caused the tilt-rotor aircraft to swerve out of control, stall and then crash near Camp Lejeune, N.C.

By Jafo79 on 4/17/2007 3:22:06 PM , Rating: 2

That right there is helicopter mode, that trip might be 200nm, if the engines quit in that configuration, those guys are as good as dead.

RE: biggest waste of taxpayer's money EVER
By Jafo79 on 4/17/2007 1:03:39 PM , Rating: 2
How often do helicopters and therefore will the Osprey be required to operate under 1,600 feet? Don't forget if the Osprey gets into settling with power on one side and not the other the damn thing flips upside down. You can guess the end result, already happened once here:

RE: biggest waste of taxpayer's money EVER
By masher2 on 4/17/2007 1:29:58 PM , Rating: 2
> "How often do helicopters and therefore will the Osprey be required to operate under 1,600 feet?"

You missed most of that equation. The Osprey isn't vulnerable when below 1,600 feet. It's vulnerable below that altitude only when configured for vertical flight, lacks sufficient forward airspeed, and loses both engines.

During 99% of the Osprey's mission time, it'll be configured for forward flight and thus, regardless of its altitude, will be able to perform a glide landing should it lose two engines.

RE: biggest waste of taxpayer's money EVER
By Jafo79 on 4/17/2007 3:09:43 PM , Rating: 2
I think you are confusing helicopter mode (not necessarily vertical) with vertical flight. Absolute vertical flight is avoided whenever possible due to the dangerous settling with power or vortex ring state that can occur should rate of descent exceed roughly 300fpm with almost zero airspeed. Unless absolutely necessary for the mission even helicopters follow a landing profile generally not reducing airspeed below 30knots or so until the rate of descent is less than 300 fpm. The v22 will be in helicopter mode on all descents to landing, that's a lot of the time. Furthermore the osprey can't come screaming into a stop like a helicopter, it must be much slower and gradual due to the aircraft's high likelihood of settling with power. The Osprey is even MORE susceptible to this problem and behaves much differently than a helicopter as 1 prop can enter into VRS while the other does not, this results in unequal lift and major control issues and eventually a crash just like in my last link because the damn reset button wasn't working for the computer! Let's not forget a computer is flying this thing, it's just receiving recommendations from a couple of humans! Therefore a single engine failure or single prop damaged by enemy fire let's say would almost certainly result in death for all aboard where as helicopters have demonstrated very survivable standards after taking fire. I guess only time will tell.

By masher2 on 4/17/2007 4:19:09 PM , Rating: 2
> "Absolute vertical flight is avoided whenever possible "

Of course. By configured for vertical flight, I mean nacelles pointed up, or "helo mode" if you prefer.

> "The v22 will be in helicopter mode on all descents to landing, that's a lot of the time"

A couple minutes out of a trip which might be several hundred miles? Sorry, thats not a significant fraction.

> "The Osprey is even MORE susceptible to [VRS]"

I'm sorry, but the more I research this the more I'm convinced its total hysteria. The Osprey is less endangered by VRS than a normal can easily get out of a VRS state, simply by a nacelle bleep, whereas a helo cannot.

So far one Osprey has crashed due to VRS, and that was due to pilot error. Here's a little writeup about that, by an ex-Army helo pilot, and owner of the site
...Now, I know what you are thinking: The military ALWAYS blames the pilots.

In this [crash], it was pilot error...The V-22 that crashed was in a two-ship formation when the lead ship started a rapid deceleration. The trailing ship (The one that crashed) followed the lead ship beyond the point where it was safe and entered a descent that was in excess of 3000 feet per minute... there is no reasonable person who would assume that a pilot induced descent in excess of 10 times the minimum required rate of descent to enter Vortex Ring State would be the fault of the aircraft . While I offer my condolences to the families of those who were killed, I must state that the excessive rate of descent was the problem here, not the aircraft design. Had the pilot broken formation and departed the landing zone to set up for a new approach, he probably would be alive today. Does that mean I am saying that the aircraft is perfect? No. It does have some problems that need to be worked out, but this specific situation is not a case where the aircraft design is at fault...

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard
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