V-22 Fails OPEVAL


     In September 2005, the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor failed its second Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL); it failed its first one in 2000.  However, a friend of the V-22 program wrote the OPEVAL report to hide these failures.  The OPEVAL report was withheld from release until Sept. 27, 2005 when a Defense Department panel met and rubberstamped it for full production after no analysis of the OPEVAL report.  This article shows how the V-22 failed OPEVAL the second time as well.  Note that a KPP is a Key Performance Parameter.  If an aircraft is unable to meet it's KPPs, it is considered a failure.  KPPs are not dreamed up by evil critics, but by Marine aviators who expect the aircraft to easily meet that minimal standard.  The basic purpose of an OPEVAL is to verify that KPPs are demonstrated. 

Major Failures During OPEVAL II

Key Performance Parameter1 Program Goal  Contract Requirement Demonstrated in OPEVAL II2  Result
Guaranteed Empty Weight 31,827 lbs 33,140 lbs ~34,000 lbs FAILED
Cruise Speed  at 3000 ft. 300+ knots 275 knots 240 knots3 FAILED
External payload, to 50 nm 15,000 lbs 10,000 lbs 7200 lbs FAILED
Internal payload, to 200 nm ~10,000 lbs4 5760 lbs 4760 lbs FAILED
Self-deploy, with one aerial refueling 2261nm 2100 nm 1600 nm FAILED
Landing Zone Maneuverability  Combat Maneuvers Combat Maneuvers Defensive Maneuvers FAILED
Unit Cost, excluding RDT&E $41-$57 million NA $100-$115 million5 Not a KPP

1 Contract KPP Source: Department of the Navy, Naval Air Systems Command, Detailed Specification for V-22 Engineering Manufacturing Development, 13 December 1995 (modified 02 April 2002) SD-572-1 Revision C, KPPs on pages 5 and 18.  The KPPs are the same in the 2000 LRIP contract.

2This is the Block A model which is minus the defensive gun and hoist to reduce weight and improve performance for OPEVAL II; ballast was not substituted. The B model coming off the production line will have these features and thus several hundred pounds more empty weight, so flight performance will be worse.  The OPEVAL report is confusing because it frequently refers to unverified contractor performance claims and even "explorated" contractor computations as proof of OPEVAL demonstration.

3 The OPEVAL II report has a chart on page 15 that includes unverified contractor hearsay and shows a cruise speed of 255 knots, but this is not mentioned in the text about testing, although it indicates 240 knots on page 40.  The V-22 users manual "NATOPS" indicates  a cruise 220-240 knots depending on aircraft gross weight.  The newer Block B is heavier with a slower cruise speed.

4The V-22 sales pitch was that it could carry 20,000 lbs of cargo internally, and could carry 24 combat-equipped Marines (5769 lbs) out to 430 nm and return home.  OPEVAL II showed it couldn't even carry that payload 200 nm. This sales pitch can be verified on the Internet, at sites like Naval Technology and this older link from the Marine Corps that advertises 15,000 lbs external lift, while OPEVAL II demonstrated 7,200 lbs.  

5 Unit cost figures from May 2005 GAO Report $100 million; August 2005 CRS Report $110 million; FY 2005 DoD budget $115 million each.

     The OPEVAL II report reveals the V-22 failed all primary mission requirements.  OPEVALs were created with the idea that an independent team of civilians from the Department of Defense should conduct final testing on military equipment to verify that military officers were not lying.  It seemed like a good idea, but the problem is the DOT&E office is headed by political appointees who often do not understand what is going on around them. The man who signed this report, David Duma, is expected to understand all the complexities of National Missile Defense, the F-22, the V-22 ect. He probably read the executive summary which says all the KPPs were "satisfied" and just skimmed the remainder of the report before he signed it.   

      This OPEVAL was completed in June 2005, and the head of Marine Aviation, General Michael Hough said the report would be released in August.  (see Aviation Week 7-18-05)  However, release of the report was delayed until the same day the Defense Acquisition Board met on September 27, 2005.  The board members must not have analyzed the entire report or they would not have voted to allow full production to commence.  OPEVALs were once posted on the Internet by DOT&E.  However, outside experts would read them and press reports would emerge about major failings, so posting OPEVALs on the Internet was halted when the Bush administration came into office.  

     Paper copies are available, so the good people at the Project on Government Oversight have posted it on the Internet for all to see.  Given the obvious KPP failures in the chart above, even jaded long-time observers of Pentagon games must be skeptical that V-22 performance is as bad as that chart indicates, and that DOT&E could produce an such a fraudulent report about their OPEVAL that skipped tests the Bell-Boeing team did not want to perform.  One would think that an OPEVAL team would go down a checklist of the contract KPPs and tell the test team to demonstrate each KPP and mark each event as passed or failed.  They did not, read the report (pdf), which clearly indicates the person at DOT&E who wrote the OPEVAL report intentionally hid the V-22's failed performance.  He often resorted to blatant lies while constantly comparing V-22 performance to the 40-year old CH-46E, which is half its size and has been safety restricted to half its payload capacity due to airframe age, something he never notes. 

     Although the V-22 has now been officially approved for production, it has unofficially been in production since 1999, producing a dozen unsafe V-22s each year which were placed in storage to await upgrades.  According to the acquisition chart on page CRS-11 in the August 2005 CRS report, only 23 of the V-22s in storage will be upgraded, so some three dozen new V-22s that cost some $3 billion dollars will be scrapped.  Since V-22s now cost $115 million each, and a recent Congressional Research report estimated that price will not decline in future years, the Marine Corps has no planned funding to increase production anyway.  Ironically, while Senator John McCain expresses outrage that C-130Js now costs $66 million each, he has voiced no concern about the $115 million V-22, even though the C-130J is twice its size and with twice as many engines, the same engines too.

      Another problem is that military contractors have managed to cozy up to the career civil servants in the DOT&E office.  As a result, their work is often poor and it allows the military services and contractors to build junk because when problems arise they can say that DoD okayed it.  Few in Washington care about this scandal right now, but after the next V-22 crashes, the media and Congress will be ready to hang someone.  I'd love to watch a future congressional hearing concerning the September 2005 DOT&E report on the V-22 Osprey with questions such as this:

CONGRESSMEN: Welcome Mr. Duma, we have read your September 2005 V-22 OPEVAL report and have several questions.  The contract guaranteed empty weight for the V-22 is 33,140 lbs.  I understand that those tested in OPEVAL weighed several hundred pounds more than that, and the "Block B" model coming off the assembly line will have several hundred pounds more weight than the overweight "Block A."  All this reduces aircraft performance.  What was the empty weight of the V-22s you tested, and what is the projected weight for the Block B?

DUMA: We didn't weigh it, and I don't know the answers.

CONGRESSMEN: As you know, there has always been concern that the V-22 is so complex that it will break down often.  Your reports notes the V-22 passed only 3 or 5 reliability tests.  It took too much time to put V-22's back into the air after a mission abort (MRT).  It also failed the projected mission capable rate of 82% for the V-22 when the entire fleet accumulates 60,000 hours; your OPEVAL team calculated only an average of 78% would be mission capable each day based on its record thus far.   

However, on page 29 it says someone in your office who was not part of the OPEVAL team developed his own model that showed a projected 88% rate at a total fleet time of 60,000 hours, which implies that V-22s will become more reliable as they age.  So rather than report a KPP failure of 78% provided by your OPEVAL team, you included this outsider's 88% as fact, and he averaged the two to create a passing score of 83%.  I also understand a member of your staff who wrote this report is good buddies with several Bell-Boeing reps.

DUMA: Aborts only disrupted a few missions.

CONGRESSMEN: But then on page 12 you describe one important test where two of the five V-22s aborted because of maintenance problems.

DUMA: Well, yes.

CONGRESSMEN: An OPEVAL is supposed to be a realistic test.  However, a "Fleet Support Team" of V-22 contractor personnel augmented the Marine maintenance personnel.  This level of support will not routinely be available to deployed Marine V-22 squadrons, and yet it still had high mission abort rates and a poor mission capable rate for new aircraft.  Why was this team of contractor maintenance experts allowed to improve the results of this supposedly realistic test of an all-Marine squadron?

DUMA: I was told it was common.

CONGRESSMEN: Finally, one of the three measures which the V-22 passed (MFHBF) the V-22 managed 1.4 hours while the threshold was at least 0.9 hours.  This means something broke down in a new V-22 every 1.4 hours of flight time.  If something in my new car broke every 1.4 hours, I would take it back for refund.  Anyway, that is considered a success in your report.  However, you should have noted that the MFHBF threshold was 1.4 hours until the program cut that goal almost in half to 0.9 hours in 2002 because of dismal performance during the last OPEVAL.

DUMA: I didn't know that.

CONGRESSMEN: The OPEVAL notes the V-22's cruising speed in the airplane mode at 3000 feet is 255 knots, and that is much better than helicopter cruising speed of around 150 knots which is measured at 300 feet.  However, the performance charts in the V-22 users manual called NATOPS indicate a cruising speed of no more than 240 knots.  In addition, a USAF study last year says the V-22 conducting helicopter type missions flying at 300 feet must cruise less than 200 knots because of the thicker air.  What did your OPEVAL show?

DUMA: We didn't test it's cruise speed at normal helicopter altitudes.

CONGRESSMEN: And why does your OPEVAL show the KPP at 240 knots when the contract KPP is 275 knots? Is it because the V-22 only demonstrated 240 knots?Photo of V-22

DUMA: I'll have to check on that.

CONGRESSMEN: I've been told the V-22's huge proprotors have killed lots of birds since they can't get out of the way, and these numerous bird strikes have caused millions of dollars in damage to V-22s; one as recently as October 12th.

DUMA:  I have no data on that.

CONGRESSMEN: The last V-22 OPEVAL focused on the 171 hydraulic leaks, which is why it failed the last OPEVAL in 2000, just before a hydraulic leak caused another V-22 to crash. Your OPEVAL report mentions none, and doesn't say how frequently they occurred.  It just noted the current configuration is "safe."  How many hydraulic leaks occurred during this OPEVAL?

DUMA: That wasn't measured this time.

CONGRESSMEN: My reading of the OPEVAL is that the V-22 is not shipboard compatible.  The V-22 must be unfolded to work on the engines.  There is only enough room in the hangar deck to work on one unfolded V-22 at a time, and even then the blades cannot spread.  Therefore, much engine maintenance must be performed on the flight deck.  That means it can only be performed in good weather, during the daytime, and when their are no flight operations.  Wouldn't you consider that a major problem? 

DUMA: It's a problem.

CONGRESSMEN: Your report also notes that when the V-22's engines are up and it sits on deck for a few minutes, the deck begins to "buckle" as it blows extremely hot engine exhaust directly on the deck, which is also a serious safety hazard.  These decks are made of steel, don't you mean melt?

DUMA: I don't know, experts are looking at the problem.

CONGRESSMEN: These problems arose after just a few days of V-22 shipboard operations, and your report noted they happened during previous shipboard testing with the V-22.  I've never heard of melted steel fixing itself.  Don't these indentations on the flight deck cause serious safety problems, especially for Harriers that use rolling take-offs?

DUMA: I don't know.

CONGRESSMEN: Your OPEVAL noted a failure of a key KPP, but didn't call it a failure.  The external lift for a V-22 has a KPP of 10,000 lbs, with a goal of 15,000 lbs.  The most it could demonstrate was 7200 lbs by lifting a HMMWV and moving it 50nm.  That is less than a light CH-60L can lift!  Boeing says the 40-year old CH-46E design can lift 10,000 lbs (see Boeing technical stats) and it is half the size of the V-22.  You could also have noted that the newest version of the tandem-rotor CH-46, the CH-47F, can pick up twice as much as the V-22.  Then of course a 20-year old CH-53E is smaller than the V-22, yet it can lift two HMMWVs further than a V-22 can lift one, and can fly fast enough to aerial refuel at the same time. (below)

     Your report twice states that no other DoD VTOL aircraft can fly long missions like the V-22, ignoring the CH-53E that has a greater range than the V-22 and can also air refuel.  Your report also included hearsay that the V-22 once picked up 9980 lbs, but I would think that if it could lift up a couple thousand more pounds, they would have demonstrated that during the OPEVAL.  Your report also noted that the performance of the upgraded "Block B" V-22 will even be worse since it will include a few hundred pounds of extra weight in the form of a hoist, de-icing system, and defensive gun. So do you agree, the V-22 failed this important KPP?

DUMA: Okay, yes, it failed to demonstrate that.

CONGRESSMEN: But on page E-1, your Executive Summary, you state the V-22 "satisfied" all KPPs.  Another KPP that was not demonstrated, self deployment overseas.  The goal of flying 2100 miles in eight hours was demonstrated by flying 1600 miles in one day?  However, more hearsay crept into your OPEVAL report.  Why did you include hearsay from contractors that the "Block B" upgrade now in production can achieve this KPP because of "explorated" performance calculations performed by the contractor.  Will you agree this KPP was not demonstrated?

DUMA: Okay, that KPP was not demonstrated.  

CONGRESSMEN: Your report does admit that a V-22 cannot autorotate to a safe landing should it lose both engines, but claims that is not a problem because NAVAIR estimated the likelihood of that happening was one in a billion flight hours.  However, the V-22s have accumulated less than 10,000 flying hours, and Air Force CV-22 #6 lost both engines last October while flying at 18,000 feet on its way to Edwards AFB.  They were lucky to restart them at 10,000 feet and make an emergency landing at Prescott, Arizona.

DUMA: I am told the engines never quit, they were just damaged from ice.

CONGRESSMEN: I consulted a tiltrotor expert, and he said while the V-22 can fly horizontally with one engine, it is close to stall speed at high altitudes since its wings are small, so losing one engine risks stalling out the airframe.  In addition, there is concern that if a V-22 loses an engine crossing an ocean, it hasn't the speed to aerial refuel and may have to ditch at sea.

DUMA: Those things were not tested.

CONGRESSMEN:  You also seem to have an error on page 1, where it states the V-22 can take-off and land vertically with only one engine.  I've been told that has never been done.  Unlike a helicopter that can flare using autorotation and land with no engine power, a V-22 with payload will suffer serious damage if it must land vertically with one engine inoperative.  The 2002 NASA report said testing was needed to see if a V-22 can land safely with one engine inoperative.

DUMA: We didn't test that.

CONGRESSMEN: Then why does your report say it can be done safely!  The data on the Page 15 chart were not results from your OPEVAL, but hearsay from the contractor.  For example, your staff didn't observe the V-22 lifting the lightweight howitzer and flying it 69 nm.  Your staff didn't observe a V-22 "self-deploy" 2100 miles with one refuel.  The chart shows "Block A projection" whose unexplained results are much better than what the Block A demonstrated to your team.  Where did all this garbage come from?

DUMA: The contractor said it can perform better in ideal weather conditions, so we used his projections.

CONGRESSMEN: The V-22 flies most efficiently at 18,000 feet, but it is unpressurized and according to a 2002 study by a medical doctor on your own staff, Colonel Ed Wakayama, the cockpit temperature falls to 14 degrees Fahrenheit . (On the Internet http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2002training/wakayama3.pdf ) Even when bundled up in arctic gear and wearing oxygen masks, painful bubbles form in the joints and pilot performance diminishes from the extreme cold.  He noted this is unsafe and prohibited by current US Air Force regulations.  I can only wonder what happens to all the internal electronics over time as they are frozen for several hours during each flight.

DUMA: I'll check into that. (staff whispers) Oh, World War II bombers flew in those conditions.

CONGRESSMEN: Yes, but they wore heated suits, those were very dangerous missions, and crews suffered so much they were limited to 25 missions.  Back to 2005, do you have another study to refute Colonel Wakayama's report, if not, why didn't you mention that flying the V-22 over 10,000 feet is unsafe?  Is this why self-deployment test were never done, because the V-22 cannot fly that far in denser air under 10,000 feet?  

DUMA: I'll have to provide that for the record.

CONGRESSMEN:  On some missions, the V-22s carried "ballast" e.g. sandbags rather than Marines to prove KPPs.   Page 12 notes the ballast used weighed 4760 lbs to represent 24 combat equipped Marines.  Doing some basic math, that is only 198 lbs per Marine.  I weigh 220 lbs, and Marines carry at least 40 lbs of gear into combat.  The standard Marine planning guidance is 240 lbs per Marine, that is in the V-22 contract.  Therefore, wouldn't you agree this KPP  to fly 24 Marines 200 miles was not demonstrated and requires retesting with 5760 lbs of ballast, plus several hundred pounds added to represent the missing defensive gun and hoist?

DUMA: Perhaps.

CONGRESSMEN:  Or maybe they chose 24 of the shortest, skinniest Marines from the 2nd Marine Division for this test so they would fit in the cabin and weigh 1000 lbs. less.  Moving 4760 lbs is equivalent of just 19 combat equipped Marines, and I can only assume that the required 5760 lbs was not used because the V-22 cannot carry that load out to 200 nm as required by the contract KPP. 

My reading of page 37 is that it is possible to cram 24 Marines into a V-22 cabin if they have no backpacks as shown in that picture on page 34, but it is unsafe because of the difficulty in egress and a limited air cooling system.  I have also been told that since the V-22 cabin is six inches narrower than the CH-46Es, crew chiefs cannot move about when passengers are seated with knees interlocked.  This is shown on page 34. So crew chiefs cannot move about to check things, assist passengers, or extinguish small fires.  Finally, the V-22 cannot fire machine guns from windows because the engines are in the way, so they plan to mount one on the ramp, making egress even worse.

DUMA: They plan to find a solution.

CONGRESSMEN: Why didn't you note that the V-22s cabin is 25% smaller than the CH-46E?

DUMA: I never heard about that.

CONGRESSMEN: I suggest you measure it, and you will find the contractor has lied.  There is a footnote on page 12 that the test director decided to end the use of ballast to simulate payload because of "oil leaks."  Please explain that bizarre decision?

DUMA: I'll have to check on that.

CONGRESSMEN: Did the V-22 program team ever explain to you why they have never been able to accomplish simple tasks like adding a personnel hoist and a defensive gun?  The then Marine Commandant General Mundy told them he wanted one back in 1999.  Your report notes the V-22 will not even carry the .50 caliber heavy machine gun; the CH-46E can carry two.  The V-22 will only have a hand carried 7.62mm medium machine gun mounted on the back ramp. If several V-22s approach a landing zone and begin taking enemy fire, how can they return fire with machine guns mounted on the back ramp?

DUMA: We didn't ask.

CONGRESSMEN: You also noted that the composite airframe cannot be repaired if it suffers battle damage.  You suggest that if must be sent to a stateside depot for repair.  Most all helicopters in Vietnam had patches to repair common bullet holes, but you are saying the V-22 cannot be patched by Marines overseas?

DUMA: Repairs are difficult, probably must be done at depots.  Repairs were not demonstrated.

CONGRESSMEN: The V-22 is expected to carry a wheeled vehicle.  However, the last OPEVAL discovered that the V-22's composite flooring and ramp were too weak to support a wheeled vehicle unless floor spacers were used.  The Marine Corps found that unacceptable as the spacers use up height and no one wants to assemble spacers on a ramp in an LZ.  What did your OPEVAL show?

DUMA: We didn't test that.

CONGRESSMEN:  After the loss of two V-22s in 2000, Marine Corps Generals and V-22 program officials repeatedly stated that there was no timeline constraint for fixing the V-22, that it would be fully tested.  However, in your report you state that much testing was not completed.  Your report noted only 31 of 131 hours of night flying was done.  Wouldn't you agree that is a very sorry result?

DUMA: They couldn't find pilots to fly the missions.

CONGRESSMEN: Yes, but this program has existed for over 23 years, don't you think it was odd that they claimed they couldn't find any night qualified pilots to conduct these tests.  Why didn't you delay the tests until such pilots were available?

DUMA: They had other things to do.

CONGRESSMEN:  I found it very odd that with all the brilliant people involved, they couldn't coordinate full shipboard testing.  Even if a ship was not available, why not conduct tests ashore?  There is a simulated ship landing site at Bogue Field near Cherry Point with the outline of an LHA that Marines use all the time.  Why wasn't that used for shipboard testing if ships were not available?

DUMA: I don't know.

CONGRESSMEN: Mr. Duma, your office is charged with conducting realistic testing in an operational evaluation setting.  So why did you refrain from conducting realistic tests, and then recommend that realistic tests be conducted?  I find this bizarre and have never read something like this in an operational evaluation which also recommends full production.  The purpose of OPEVAL is to conduct the final testing.  Who do you expect to conduct these tests?  You are the final okay before full production, and you write in this report that you did not perform realistic "high threat" tests.  Why?

DUMA: Contractors say more testing is needed.

CONGRESSMEN: Is it because they worry that rotorhead components might crack and the composite rotors might break off, as one almost did in 2003 (right) during a mishap that was kept secret. 

DUMA: I am not aware of that incident.

CONGRESSMEN: Are you telling me that you chose not to do realistic tests because the contractor told you they were unsafe?  So you are testifying that the V-22 has not conducted tests to prove it is safe in a realistic environment.

DUMA: It's safe, we just couldn't verify it.

CONGRESSMEN: Your OPEVAL occurred over a three month period.  However, you report that brownout testing was not conducted because no one could find austere landing zones in the USA where they can be conducted.  Is that correct?

DUMA: Well, it rained at Nellis and the sand was moist.

CONGRESSMEN: Many have stated that V-22's downwash is no worse than a CH-53E.  But the V-22 will not replace the CH-53E, which is a cargo helicopter with three times the payload capacity of the V-22.  The V-22 will replace the CH-46E as an assault helicopter designed to insert Marines into austere landing zones.  Since the V-22 is twice the weight of a CH-46E, many are concerned about its downwash, and we don't know how bad it is because the testing was skipped during OPEVAL.  Couldn't you just land on a sandy beach at Camp Lejeune?

DUMA: I don't know why.

CONGRESSMEN:  Your report noted that Marines at aviation logistic squadrons can only repair 90 of 590 V-22 parts. All the other parts must be returned to a depot for repairs.  That's a remarkably high number and very expensive.

DUMA: Yes, we noted that.

CONGRESSMEN:  So Mr. Duma, am I correct when I say that V-22 testing is incomplete, yet Marines in the operating forces will soon begin using V-22 to fly realistic missions?  In addition, you only tested the Block A aircraft, no one has tested the Block Bs which are coming off the production line and have several significant changes.  Since the V-22 is incomplete, has not demonstrated key KPPs, and requires more testing, why didn't you recommend a third OPEVAL?

DUMA: We recommended more testing.

CONGRESSMEN: According to a March 2005 GAO report (http://www.gao.gov/htext/d05301.html), and I quote:

"The Navy plans to increase annual production of the aircraft starting in fiscal year 2006, provided the Secretary of Defense certifies to Congress that the program successfully completed operational testing by demonstrating several capabilities related to V-22 safety, effectiveness, maintainability, and reliability (Section 123, Pub. Law 107-107, Dec. 28, 2001) through operational test. The certification would allow the program to increase annual production above the current minimum sustaining rate. Program officials are concerned that the certification cannot be done before completion of the fiscal year 2006 budget process and, as a result, the request to increase production may not be granted."

Is this one reason why much of the testing was skipped, and the OPEVAL rushed?

DUMA: We didn't want to delay anything.

CONGRESSMEN: In summary Mr. Duma, you certified the V-22 as suitable for operational use by the Marines, even though it has failed to demonstrate the minimal performance required by several primary KPPs, has not been fully tested, failed shipboard compatibility, and is considered too unsafe for realistic tests at this time.

DUMA: I have to go now.


Once again, this a mythical congressional hearing designed to make complex material more easy to read.  Hopefully, these questions will be used in a real hearing one day.  In fairness to Mr. Duma, this report was written by a long-time staff member who abused Duma's trust to get the fraudulent OPEVAL signed.  Nevertheless, he should have taken time to read the entire report carefully before he signed it, or had others review it first.  DOT&E had contracted with the experts at IDA to study the V-22, and they concluded it was unsafe, but that was not mentioned in the OPEVAL.

Here is a link to my V-22 article from last year: Why the V-22 is Unsafe

     The OPEVAL mentioned that the large deck amphibious ships LHAs and LHDs would be "crowded" with 12 V-22s aboard, it was tested with 8 V-22s, and they recommended this should be studied.  This is a very important issue that was not explained.  The Marines normally deploy with a mix of three transport helicopters aboard: 3 UH-1N "Hueys", 4 CH-53Es, and 12 CH-46Es.  However, the V-22 is more that twice the empty weight of a CH-46E, and occupies more space.  Navy ships can only operate with so much weight on the flight deck lest they become top-heavy and unstable.  Therefore, 12 V-22s cannot replace 12 CH-46Es on an LHA or LHD, only 6-8 V-22s can deploy with 3 UH-1Ns and 4 CH-53Es, so Marines will have LESS lift than today.

     A 2004 USAF study noted that the typical helicopter mission for an amphibious landing is flying 50nm missions at 300 feet AGL.  It estimated that a loaded V-22 flying in denser air at that level will have a cruise speed of less than 200 knots.  In addition, much of ship-to-shore turnaround time involves landing, refueling, loading or unloading, and taking off, activities where a higher cruise speed does not matter. The report concludes that the V-22's only advantage of a higher cruise speed provides only a slight improvement in ship-to-shore movement.  In a contest between a V-22 and the similar size CH-53E to move cargo ashore, the CH-53E can move 2-3 times more cargo ashore each day.  It is true that the 20-year old CH-53Es are maintenance intensive, which is why new CH-53Xs are needed.

     Since Bell-Boeing's V-22 exceeded the contract guaranteed empty weight, the Marine Corps could have cancelled the program with no penalty.  This is why getting approved for full production after OPEVAL was important for Bell-Boeing.  Once the Marines accept reality that the V-22 is junk, they will have to pay a few billion in penalties to cancel it.  Meanwhile, the Marines hoped to overhaul and upgrade their aging CH-53Es into CH-53Xs starting in 2002, but the date was continually pushed back as the V-22 program stretched out and devoured more aviation funding.  Last, year the Marines realized that this program couldn't be funded until after 2010, and decided the CH-53E airframes would be so old that it was better to procure new CH-53Xs.  However, Congress recently refused to fund prototypes for this program since the V-22 funding requirements have risen and according to the V-22s sales pitch, helicopters are outdated legacies.  As a result, the Marines will begin retiring 15 CH-53Es each year starting in 2011 with no heavy lift replacement.

     To demonstrate the V-22's poor performance, the Army's newest Blackhawk, the CH-60L, is already fielded for less than $20 million a copy (compared to $115 million per V-22) and has an empty weight of 11,516 lbs, one-third that of a V-22, yet it can pick up more payload externally. That Sikorsky link shows it picking up an AVENGER HMMWV weighing 8750 pounds, and the chart shows it can move it over 60 nm.  Recall the V-22 demonstrated picking 7200 lbs and moving it 50 nm. The Navy is now procuring a few hundred nearly identical MH-60S Knighthawks; the Marines can join in that buy at $25 million a copy. This chart shows the results of the V-22 hybrid idea; it can fly like an airplane and a helicopter, but with only one-third the performance of either.  A rotor and a propeller are very different.  The V-22's "proprotor" is a compromise that greatly reduces performance in either mode.

Aircraft Empty Weight Combat Troops Cruise Speed Payload to 50nm Useful load Range Unit Cost1
MH-60S 11,516 lbs 12 147 knots   7,000 lbs  200nm   $25 million
CH-53X 33,225 lbs 55 150 knots 28,000 lbs  540nm ~$50 million
MV-22B 35,375 lbs  182 230 knots   7,200 lbs  200nm $115 million
C-27J3 39,500 lbs 46 305 knots 25,320 lbs 1050nm   $25 million

1 Unit cost excludes research, development, evaluation, and testing costs.  It is based on the latest contracts, with the exception of the proposed CH-53X where an estimated is provided.  The V-22 program has always lied about unit cost, read V-22 Costs Soar.

2The V-22s cabin is almost four feet shorter than the CH-46E.  Nevertheless, contractors insist the V-22 can carry 24 combat equipped Marines, even after the GAO determined that only 15-18 Marines fit.  OPEVAL II demonstrated flying 4760 lbs 200 nm, or the equivalent of 19 combat equipped Marines.

3The C-27J is a new two-engine STOL military transport airplane that uses the same two engines as the V-22.  It is included to show how poorly the V-22 performs as an airplane, mostly because it has small wings to save weight and huge proprotors. The C-27J payload listed in the chart can be carried well past 50nm, out to 500nm.  It has a ferry range of 3200nm, compared to 500nm for the V-22.

     The ability to "self-deploy" overseas is one of the most confusing aspects of the V-22 sales pitch.  Many articles list the V-22's range as 2100 nm, even the respected "Aviation Week" listed that in its 2005 directory.  Most people assume this means a V-22 can fly 2100 nm overseas with cargo or troops.  That is false, the V-22 can carry a "useful load" of cargo only around 350 nm to another airbase, where it must refuel to fly back.  If it flies with no cargo to another base, what is known as "ferry range," it can fly around 500 nm.  

     To reach 2100 nm, it must embark a huge (2436 gallon) auxiliary fuel tank in its cargo bay to double its fuel capacity.  This extra weight means it must take-off from a paved runway with a long rolling take-off at a max gross weight of 60,500 lbs.  In 23 years of testing, it has never managed to take off above 54,500 lbs. Then it must fly up to its most efficient altitude of ~18,000 feet for eight hours where the cockpit temperature falls well below freezing and pilots must wear oxygen masks, something considered unsafe by current regulations.  Then it must meet up with a tanker and refuel in flight.  (That is an error in the OPEVAL report which states it can fly 2100 nm with either an aerial refueling or an aux tank, it needs both.)  The V-22s tested were unable to demonstrate this.  The upgraded "Block B" coming off the assembly line will have larger wing tanks to carry more fuel, so it may reach the 2100 nm requirement, if it can get off the ground when fully fueled with an aux tank embarked.  

     In reality, a V-22 can never really self-deploy 2100nm overseas since a KC-130 will have to fly alongside to refuel it halfway.  Despite this self-deploy sales pitch, a V-22 has never flown overseas in over 23 years of flight testing, mostly because if it loses an engine or has some other problem, it may have to ditch at sea. This is why a CH-53E has never self-deployed overseas, although it is capable of doing so as it has greater range than a V-22, aux tanks to extend that, and can also air refuel.  Finally, if a V-22 were to self-deploy to Hawaii for example, the pilots would need at least 24 hours off for crew rest before continuing on the next leg, and a tanker link-up coordinated for every leg.  Given all these complications, it is safer, cheaper, and easier for a V-22 or any helicopter to just ride a ship overseas.  It is probably faster too given the need for several crew rest stops and a week or more delay to fix whatever breaks down during long icy flights.

     The OPEVAL skipped the "Eagle Claw" demonstration, claiming it could not coordinate tanker support the night the test was planned, yet never explained why that test wasn't done a different night.  The ability to perform an "Operation Eagle Claw" mission has always been the V-22's main selling point.  This was the 1980 Iranian rescue mission which was complex and failed.  It has long been argued that V-22s could have carried troops on those 600 nm missions flying at 200 ft. with a single refueling each way.  Apparently, the V-22 cannot even demonstrate this mission, one of its primary justifications.  It has the range if it can fly high, but flying in dense air at 200 feet pushes its cruise speed down to 185 knots which burns more fuel per mile. This is no problem for the Marines since the CH-53E can perform that mission with three times more payload.  That Eagle Claw link notes the old Navy RH-53D used on that mission entered service in 1973, could carry 30 passengers when fully fueled, and once flew 2077 nm with one aerial refueling and no aux tank, so it had greater payload and greater range than the V-22.

     V-22 supporters constantly moan that all aircraft have trouble in development.  That is true, which is why some are cancelled.  The Navy XFY-1 Pogo (left) is a good example.  It was a revolutionary "tail sitter" aircraft capable of vertical take-offs and landings.  On 02 November 1954 the XFY-1 delta wing experimental fighter, piloted by J. F. Coleman, made a successful flight at NAS Moffett Field, consisting of vertical takeoff, transition to horizontal and return to vertical position for landing. The first free vertical takeoff had been made on 1 August. For his contribution to the art of flying, in testing the XFY-1, Coleman was later awarded the Harmon International Trophy for 1955.

     The XFY-1 was able to successfully take off and land vertically, yet the project was cancelled at the completion of this flight test program in 1955 from a combination of handling problems and the realization that the design could not match the performance of contemporary fighter aircraft. The main problems with these VTOL airplanes were the tricky piloting maneuvering required in the take-off and landing and the need to tilt the entire aircraft over into conventional flight.  The XFY-1 was a "revolutionary" aircraft, like the V-22.  It flew and completed flight testing, like the V-22.  Yet it wasn't as capable as hoped and too dangerous to operate in the fleet, like the V-22.  The Marines liked the V-22 sales pitch and still want an aircraft that can meet that advertised performance, but the program has produced a V-22 whose performance not only failed to meet expectations, but performs well below the minimum required.  In addition, it is costing twice as much to procure and safety concerns remain a major issue.

     Mr. Duma's predecessor at the Department of Defense Test and Evaluation office had stood up to Bell-Boeing and bravely failed the V-22 in the 2000 OPEVAL, a month before the fourth V-22 crashed because of faults he had noted in his report. After reading this latest OPEVAL, he became angry that his former office had produced a fraudulent report and become a public relations arm for Bell-Boeing.  In an October 4, 2005 interview with Inside the Navy, he said:

“Considering its performance limitations, the V-22 is going to be a costly aircraft to buy and to maintain,” Philip Coyle, a former chief of the Pentagon’s operational testing directorate, told ITN. “And considering the accident history of the V-22, it may be costly in terms of lives lost as well. Spending money on an aircraft with significant combat limitations is a waste, especially at a time when the U.S. military is spread thin and could well use the resources for other, higher-priority needs. If the V-22 causes further loss of life, that will be a tragedy that could have been prevented by a decision to delay full-rate production.”

                                                Carlton Meyer  editorG2mil@Gmail.com

©2006 www.G2mil.com


V-22 Fails OPEVAL 

     Thanks for a clearly superior summation of our military force posture 'dream-world' approach to 21st century conflicts.  I was especially gratified by your "V-22 Fails OPEVAL"-- which can only be viewed as a monumental fraud!  To your knowledge, has the article been made known to the office of the U.S. Attorney General? Not strange, that my repeated attempts to call attention to the unsafe V-22- to members of the Texas congressional delegation has been responded to by SILENCE!   There is little doubt that this aircraft will result in the loss of many young and unwary Marines.  The loss of heavy lift capability is built into the V-22's excessive expenditures!  CH-53X is doomed.  I've fought this Texas Albatross for all of my 28 year Air Force career -- I did manage to keep it out of the Air Rescue Mission --- but not the Special Ops -- General Charles Holland agreed to field 50 V-22s at his fourth star Senate confirmation hearings, even before flight testing (such as it was) was completed!

 LT.Col John H. McLeaish USAF (ret) former long range plans officer -Air Rescue Service - Jolly Green 56 Vietnam.

Ed: Last month, the Marines managed to resurrect a little development funding for the CH-53X, now called the CH-53K.  However, there will be no money to buy any until the V-22 is cancelled.  At its current rate of funding, only a dozen $115 million V-22s can be purchased each year, so look for the program to stretch out until 2030, while the CH-53Es will begin retiring in 2011 and all will be gone by 2020.

Hopefully, the V-22 will be cancelled long before then.  The picture at right shows where most the V-22s will soon end up, in museums.  Even the birds have no respect for the V-22, as their bird poop indicates.

They have no solution to the deck heating problem.  This occurs when V-22's engines are upright and blow hot exhaust directly down on a ship's deck, causing it to warp and heating up the spaces just below.  Here is a recent message of alarm from a Navy Admiral.




(e.g. from the Commander of all Atlantic based amphibious ships)

(e.g. Hazard Report)







(e.g. references to tests aboard ships with date noted)

POC/COYLE F.G./CDR/N81/CPG-2/TEL:757-462-7403 X781




V-22 Osprey instability due to high proprotor angular momentum impulse forces

I just recently caught your website which does an honorable job of exposing the flaws in the V-22 Osprey design and overall flight unworthiness. I, too, since about 1998 had done some very rough calculations based upon an assumed mass of the 19 feet long proprotor blades and using the application of the simplest of equations for the momentum of a simple rod (3 rods in this case) and as to the expected forces (torques) that could (would?) very likely be suffered at max rpm by such on this aircraft in normal weather storms and actionable combat zones. I found that due to the gyroscopic effect of these relative light (yet massive enough) rotors that there would be over times (due to impulse effects) large and unstable gyrations caused upon the nacelles and the airframe. 

I suggest you consider challenging the physics and engineering community to prove that the V-22 Osprey is not inherently a death trap because of the error in accounting for the large angular momentum of the huge 38ft proprotors on this aircraft. The angular moment and gyroscopic effect IMHO is a key to its future metal fatigue and instability problems particularly in combat situations. There is also the stability problem of what happens when a proprotor is perturbated by small damage and/or partially imbalanced due to damage from debris or bullets. The Lockheed Electra (Navy P3) had a similar problem with its heavy propellers when it was first introduced over 35 years ago or so. Many people were killed until this oversight was discovered. They fixed it, however, the V-22 has a much more significant engineering angular momentum control problem if you take the 3 props at about 2 slugs each and consider their angular momentum forces at the max blade speed of ~660ft/sec. It is a huge amount of gyroscopic force to have to control if you were to be in a hazardous weather or a combat situation where the aircraft is being battered about causing large torques to be produced by these props on the superstructure.

     Even the Russians when they made a large turboprop bomber in the 70's & 80's used dual propellers spinning in opposite directions on a common shaft to counter the large gyroscopic torque problems. Please accept my encouragement to you and all of your supporters on assuring that this military machine is truly the advanced, useful, and SAFE platform that makes it a confident platform of the future for our military personnel and for the aviation industry in general. 

                                                                              B. Reeves, DoD Physicist - retired

Ed:  The problems are much worse when you read about the cross drive shaft. It is not a single solid shaft like the CH-47 and CH-46.  It is a dozen interconnecting shafts connected with gears that curves up over the cabin. It must be flexible since the composite wings flex. It is very complex and very vulnerable. Apparently, this has caused recent gearbox problems as the flexing cross shaft strains the gearbox components. They are always bringing new V-22s into the test pool.  I assume because after couple hundred hours of flight time, fatigue causes major problems.

Those profiting off the V-22 program hit the Internet several years ago to dominate and squash much of the critical discussion that had appeared in many on-line military forums.  Anyone who makes negative comments is attacked as ignorant and not supportive of the Marine Corps.  Those on military.com are nasty, as this recently retired Marine Corps CWO-5 learned when he posted a negative comment.  Here was his interesting reply.

Posted: Sun 18 December 2005 17:34

You guys are sure quick to bash people...I wasn't in from 83-03..I was in from 73-03. I spent my first 10 years as a 46 hydraulicsman, crewchief, maintenance controller, and QA rep in HMM-161, HMM-263, and HMM-162. I spent my last 20 years as an MMCO of: HMT-301, HMM-161, HMH-465, HMM-165, HMM-263, HMLA-269...and as PC and PowerPlants Officer of MALS-29. Did a tour as the OIC of the Basic Helo School in Millington..'88-'91 and a tour as the Course Officer and senior instructor at the AMO Short Course in Pensacola..'95-'98.

I know how to read and I know how to consider all information. When LtCol Jim Schleining, the MAG-26 CO took it in the *** from LtGen Parks (CG, COMMARFORLANT) the 2DMAW CG never came to his aid. LtCol Schleining was a very dear friend of mine and a great leader. The pressure from above to make the Osprey look great was tremendous. I KNOW because I was THERE from the beginning and had MANY discussions with the people on the inside. I send a 4 page letter to General Parks about SCIR data and "taking care of people" before a long weekend by NOT putting a date on VIDSMAFS until Monday morning. Among other things. I received a response from his JAG that told me he could allow the General to read my letter because he was the convening authority. That was total horseshit. The General adjudicated the entire affair administratively...so he could have considered ANYTHING he wanted to.

So...if any of you super know-it-alls have less than 20 years in the Marine Corps, you don't know squat about what went on in the roll up to this aircraft.

I posted the article I read on G2 so that people could read it. Is the testimony fabricated? Someone show me a counter-article that says it is. I was at MAWTS in 1998 as the AAMO (TAD from Okinawa) when the CO of MAWTS-1, then Col. Catto, said he wanted to fly a TACTICAL insert mission with the V-22s during the Spring WTI of '99. I believe that's when the 18 Marines died when the aircraft couldn't handle the sink rate. Correct me if I'm wrong or shut your trap.

Yeah...I had 30 years in HELO maintenance and I knew what the hell I was talking about and still do. Put a lie detector on some of the Flag Officers who have retired and ask them about this aircraft. All you cheerleaders will change your tune when this aircraft starts flying in a REAL environment and we find out it can't do HALF of what it's supposed to do. Go jump onboard and do some TAIL CHASE like we used to do in the PHROG. This thing would fall out of the sky. Quit walking the party line boys.

My LAST name is included below for you party line hacks.

Semper Fi,
CWO5 Steve Lind, USMC, Ret
Pensacola, FL
USMC 1972 - 2003

Ed: I took note that "Aviation Week" had run several negative letters about the V-22 in recent weeks.  They depend on the defense industry for advertising money, so they rarely mention anything negative about any major program.  I knew they had read my recent article, so maybe this is their way of getting the word out.  It must have angered Bell-Boeing, so it looks like they cut a deal. The 1-02-06 "Aviation Week" has a very unusual 16 full-page advertisement about the great V-22, it must have cost Bell-Boeing a million dollars, oh I mean American taxpayers.  What is strange is that it is written as an article, but according to very small print at the bottom of the first page, it notes this is a special marketing supplement.

That section quotes the head of Marine Aviation, General Michael Hough, about what he told all Marines about the second operational evaluation: Hough stated:  "And we have to do things in such a way that we can show unequivocally that this capability is safe."  As a result, Hough should be fired and possibly arrested for criminal conspiracy.  The experts at IDA told him the V-22 was not safe, which is why he put out the word that "we have to do things in such a way."  He should have stated that we will have to see if the contractor has built a safe aircraft that meets the performance they promised.  However, he is quoted several times saying about what "we" needed to prove.  He sounds likes someone working for Bell-Boeing because they are the ones who needed to prove the V-22 to the Marine Corps. (His three predecessors went to work for V-22 contractors shortly after retirement.) So Marines followed orders and did things "in such a way" like skipping tests and having a loyal "friend" at DOT&E falsify the results.

All the evidence is here for a criminal indictment: http://www.g2mil.com/Duma.htm  The reaction I get from many people who read it that it cannot be true because it is so blatant.  In addition to safety, the performance just didn't fail to meet goals, it only demonstrated half the payload and range promised.  That advertising section shows Bell-Boeing is going all out to keep this undercover, making sure Aviation Week knows who pays their salaries, indirectly at least.  They know the V-22 is unsafe, why else would they substitute sandbags to simulate Marines grunts for most of their "demonstrations" during OPEVAL?  Why else would they skip important tests, but state they know it is safe?  Why else would they run a 16-page advertisement disguised as an article in a respected aviation magazine?

A couple weeks later, Aviation Week's large annual Sourcebook appeared.  For the second year in a row, it listed the incorrect range for the V-22 as 2100nm.  It has a range of only around 500nm.  After a few e-mails, they promised to correct that error next year.  Meanwhile, all readers will think the V-22 really does have four times more range than helicopters.  In reality, it has less range, one-third their payload, and only round 40% more speed, for a price tag of five times more.

Also note that they say the V-22 is safe and ready, but will not begin to support Marines until  2007.  Over 60 V-22s have been delivered to the Marines, the first V-22 squadron has over two dozen V-22s that are used only for pilot training, e.g. safe flights only in good weather, from hard runways, and with no payload.  An HMM squadron has a PAA of only 12 aircraft, so why don't the Marines have two squadrons of V-22 supporting Marines at Camp Lejeune now?  It passed the OPEVAL didn't it? They are urgently needed, right?  Of course the sometime in 2007 is just a goal, they've milked this thing for 23 years, why not two more at least.  This ensures a few dozen more V-22s are funded until they are finally required to perform real missions resulting in frequent crashes.

V-22 Scandal Homepage