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G2mil is impressive

     Just found your site and I am very impressed.  Dealt with military issues while working for Congress and became very depressed at the use of weapons systems as a public works program and that even the folks at the Pentagon were more worried about career success flowing from a "successful" program than whether a system actually would perform in combat or was even needed.  The more information that is available to the public the better.  You are performing a necessary service by combining a degree of advocacy with the straight accounting of weapons systems such as the FAS DOD 101 site has.  Keep up the good work!

                                                                                      Walter Braswell

Cancel Everything

     Your July editorial echoes themes that have been well known for many years (although your article certainly encapsulates them more clearly). The F-22 program in particular is a financial boondoggle of the highest order, as opposed to the Osprey which is blatantly dangerous to everyone except our enemies. As for the navy, well......                                                      

                                                                                      Robert Lederman

Airborne Aircraft Carriers may not work

     It doesn't look like an 'Airborne Aircraft Carrier' is workable. There are a host of problems to your idea:

1) The airframe, especially wings, of the KC-10's may not be able to withstand the stress of those aircraft w/weapons load. The KC-10 and the B-36 are two totally different planes.

2) The 'towing cables' would have to be light and would have to be able to retract after releasing the fighters, a system is needed (taking up needed fuel and storage space, along w/ suitable materials for the cables.

3) The F-16s would have to be in an auto-pilot mode to adjust to air turbulence, altitude adjustments etc.  Along with this its engines must be kept running so as not to damage it engines thru wind resistance on its turbofans.

     These are but a few problems that must be worked out with your concept; however, is it necessary?  The problems are solved thru a use of the traditional aircraft carrier. Although I am no fan of the "Carrier mafia" , they do have their uses.

                                                                                     Mark Quintard  

Ed. I'm sure expensive modifications would be required.  Ideally, new 747Xs would be built for just this role.  I address Navy aircraft carriers in this issue, but Airborne Aircraft Carriers have their uses, even just to ferry fighters overseas.

Low Cost Space Launches

      Your ideas (and Gerald Bull's) about the advantages of satellite launches from long barreled 16-inch guns are interesting.  Ed. Dr. Bull's gun is pictured on our home page this month.

       In that regard I also wanted to point out that detonation shock effects on the barrel puts great limitations on the muzzle velocity and also provides prohibitively high g factors for the payload.  But there is the alternative of Pneumatic Propulsion (from kilometer long vertical shafts) combined with new ideas such as NONFanno flow-gradual heating of highly compressed gas (so nondetonation) heating resulting in supersonic assisted launch.  It takes a lot of fuel to lift a lot of fuel so that this high initial velocity saves at least a stage.  

                                                                                     David Maker maker3@bellsouth.net

Ed. Mr. Maker agreed to write an article on this concept, which appears in this issue.  Dr. Bull launched working satellites from his gun, and they worked even with old transistor technology.   Current GPS guided artillery shells also prove the gun-launched g forces are not an obstacle.

Heavy Hellfires

     "Each Hellfire weighs only a hundred pounds" Oh, that's all? Sorry sir, but you're wrong on this one. You have obviously never had the pleasure of reloading a TOW round from inside a Bradley or ITV. The BGM-71 TOW missile weighs from 54.2 to 64.1 lbs depending on the round used.  We would never get any $100,000 Hellfire rounds for live fire training.  Mount them on the M981 FIST-V? We already have a vehicle for that. It's called the M901 ITV. You should take a look at the Javelin ATGM that the Army is field testing. Unfortunately only the great and all-powerful 82nd ABN division gets to play with the Javelin.  At least it's light enough to be man portable like the M47 Dragon (crap!).

                                                                                     One old TOW SGT

Ed.  I guess the Apache helicopter crews are body builders because they load Hellfires all the time, although not during combat.  The proposed ground-based Hellfire II would have no protection, it would be on rails in the open so loading is easier.  Of course reloading in combat would be almost impossible, but if a HMMWV has fired off its load of four Hellfires at tanks, its done its part.  The big advantage is the size and speed of the Hellfire allows it to defeat frontal armor of heavy tanks, TOWs cannot, nor can the Javelin.  I know they have a top-attack capability, but that requires some luck, and can be defeated with tank roofs (e.g. overhead shields). 

MV-22 would not be certified by the FAA

     Many years ago, new military aircraft had to be certified by the FAA before delivery.  If this were still required, the V-22 program would have died long ago.  I have a PhD in Aeronautics and spent most of my life in helicopter development.  I used the V-22 specs and did calculations to determine the safety margin for the aircraft needed to prevent dangerous stalls.  The V-22 design provides only one-third the safety margin which the FAA requires.  This is even more dangerous since the V-22 is unable to auto-rotate in the hover mode.  I've shared this information with several people involved in the program, it only made them angry.

                                                               Name Withheld

Ed. The July 9, 2001 issue of "Aviation Week" states that the Bell Agusta BA609 tiltrotor is similar in design to that of the larger Bell Boeing MV-22, but will be certified to commercial, not military, standards.  This is admission that the V-22 would not be certified as safe by the FAA. 

V-22 lands naked Marines

       Thanks for the well researched article!  One important item missing in the down wash section: in early testing, exiting Marines literally had their clothing ripped off their bodies when making a combat entry approach.  So the "exiting" procedure had to be redesigned.  Marines must follow a certain path in order to avoid fighting naked---this of course doesn't deal with the critical problem of the direction of hostile enemy fire!

  David Rucker  themark@airmail.net



V-22 software problems cannot be fixed

      In your article you state that proper testing can eliminate the V-22s software problems.  I disagree; the V-22 is "fly-by-wire", meaning that a computer controls the aircraft, based on input from the pilot.  Even with the best computers available today, the calculations which the computer must crunch are just too numerous in the hover mode.  The V-22 computer controls two engines/rotors and must deal with changing winds, air temperature, speed, direction, weight, humidity, and air density whenever the pilot moves the stick.  As a result, control is often sluggish, sometimes taking several seconds to respond.  Sometimes the computer is overwhelmed and crashes, so be it must be reset (e.g. rebooted).  If you add the complexities of external loads or turbulence from nearby V-22s or minor pilot errors common at night or in combat zones, the V-22 will often crash from "software anomalies", which is what caused the last crash. 

                                                          Name Withheld

     The Pentagon announced its FY2002 budget plan for the V-22.  The planned buy was cut from 16 MV-22 (Marines) and 2 CV-22s (Air Force) to 12 unflyable MV-22s.  Since the Air Force resisted pressure to order any flawed CV-22s, it signals they have accepted reality and will drop plans for 50 MV-22s.  However, the Bell-Boeing team will get an extra $410 million for R&D to try to "fix" the fundamentally flawed V-22 design, again.  Since the procurement cuts total only $231 million, the Bell-Boeing team will make even more profits during FY2002 than if the flawed V-22 had been approved for full production. 

Only two V-22s will fit in an LHA Hanger

     I'm in the Navy and was on the USS Saipan where the V-22 was certified as shipboard compatible.  It was designed to fit in the hanger deck of an LHA or LHD, it does, by inches, which doesn't leave room to move them around.  I estimated that we could only fit two in the hanger deck at a time.  This probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but it is.

                                                       Name Withheld

JSF Assault Version

     This may be an impossibly naive question, but would the JSF, with it's internal bomb bay and vertical lift capability, be, with appropriate modifications, a possible substitute for for the failed V-22?  Barring that, is it possible to meet the Marine's needs with an aircraft with a frame, etc, built around the JSF's engine and flight controls?

                                                     Taylor Norwitt

Ed.  Great idea, I've been thinking about that for years.  It couldn't replace a helicopters cargo lift ability, but a few long-range rapid assault jet squadrons would prove valuable.  The problem is how to disembark as the downwash from a VTOL jet is too heavy.  Perhaps the Marines could be in a cargo pod which slides out the back, or they could exit the top and slide down a long extendable metal slide.