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Good MV-22 article

Just wanted to tip my hat to you for your piece on the MV-22.  Hopefully it gets into he hands of people who can make a difference.  I've written some op/ed pieces for our paper, after covering the 4/8 tragedy in Marana.  Keep up the good work.  Your piece was well thought out.

                                                     J. Stryker Meyer                                           

V-22 Downwash is another flaw

      Your review was very good and accurate, but did not directly mention one major limiting feature of the V-22.  And that is that its terribly high velocity downwash 90+ kts is, alone, is a major operational limitation.  You cannot pick anyone up from the water, in a boat, while hovering over a building etc, as the downwash will drown them, capsize a small boat, blow them away etc.  It has to land in clean site, and have folk walk aboard - gentleman like.  It cannot do what a helo does - hover overhead, survey a situation and pick people up.  IT CANNOT DO HELO THINGS. It is a slow fixed wing plane that CAN land vertically under ideal conditions.  If someone were to get into the gritty details of the developmental issues, a few which have come out now, it could be a big expose.  R&M people have been reporting the maintainability problems (some fundamental to the basic architecture mandating massive support equip), for years but with it all being ignored. 

     Its shape (flying X) does not allow positioning as is possible with Tandem rotor helos (CH-46) for VERTREP ops etc.  The Boeing Helicopter Model 360 - a "new technology" CH-46 which holds the helo speed record would have and still might be another competitive candidate.  It could, even at this time probably be brought to an operational configuration for less than required to further attempt to make the V-22 viable.  The Sikorsky S-92 (see latest Aviation Week and Space Tech article) would be another practical alternative for the future.  As you conclude the V-22 is not practical.  It is exotic jewelry -  a gimmick.  A bit more speed but at a hideous cost and safety impact.  It is not clear why the USMC would sell their soul to such a program.  

                                                                                       Terry Jackson

V-22 Article was Trash
       You must be a Sikorsky employee or a United Technologies stockholder. There are more mistakes and misrepresentations in this trash than I have seen in my 26 years with the Osprey program. You clearly don't know what you are talking about.
Good candidate for the Darwin Award.
                                                                        Dick Spivey

Ed. I asked Mr. Spivey to identify the "mistakes and misrepresentations" so I could correct them, he refused.  He spent 26 years on the V-22 and it still doesn't work, but he made a career out of the project, which is "The Problem with R&D" discussed in this month's editorial.  The new GAO report is available on-line in Adobe at
GAO- 01- 369R Defense Acquisitions United States General Accounting Office Washington, DC 20548 February 20, 2001 The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld The Secretary of Defense Subject: Defense Acquisitions: Readiness of the ... - size 269.0K - GAO Reports

I've read parts, its very negative, I haven't read all because the download is slow and it keeps freezing up my computer. 

Many readers sent in short comments:

 # If the tilt-rotors become jammed in the airplane mode, it can't land, it would have to ditch at sea.

# In Vietnam, most crashed helicopters were recovered, repaired, and put back in service, or stripped for valuable parts.  In the V-22 crashes, its composite airframe always caught fire and quickly incinerated the entire aircraft. 

# The 4-8-00 crash was blamed on pilot error for descending too fast, yet this experienced pilot had an experienced co-pilot who also failed to notice that anything was wrong.

#The Corps bought 10 MV-22s in FY99, and another 16 MV-22s are in production for FY00.  Even if the current flaws can be fixed, it will cost another billion dollars to upgrade these 26, (oophs) 24 new aircraft.

#I read that "money was saved" by allowing 80% of the V-22s flight test be conducted in simulators.  Since this was new technology, they could not have had enough data to perform accurate simulations.

#The V-22 hydraulics system failed 170 times last year during 804 hours of evaluation.  Does Bell-Boeing expect us to believe this wasn't a problem they discovered during testing?  It is obvious they don't know how to fix the problem, or they would have done so years ago.

#They can't fix the vortex ring problem or the lack of autorotation, they are flaws inherent in the V-22 design.  They knew this years ago, which is why some corrupt officers gave them test waivers.  If they had told the truth, the marines would be flying a hundred new CH-60s today and have 23 more marines on active duty.  

#Since neither the USAF or Navy will let the Army have fixed wing combat aircraft, the Army will never buy transport contraptions that fly faster than escorting gunships.  Boeing got the cross-linked transmission working good in the CH-47D, but that wasn't inside a wing that rotates 90 degrees and they're hooked up to real rotors, not some bastard cross breed of propeller and rotor.

#When the V-22 flies like an airplane, it big rotors extend well below the aircraft, which may hit something in low level flight, and would certainly destroy the aircraft if it needed to belly land.

#Here's a very detailed link for an explanation of the V-22s vortex ring problem  Basically, if one rotor loses lift, the other one instantly flips the V-22 over.

#Until the V-22 came along, all acceptance testing was done by Navy/Marine pilots at Pax River.  In its 9-8-1997 article, "Aviation Week" reported  that V-22 program manager Jack Gallagher proudly announced:  "Flight testing and acceptance tests will be conducted by an integrated test team of Bell Boeing and U.S. Marine Corps pilots."  It seems likely that the Bell-Boeing employees somehow influenced the Marine pilots.  I wonder who these Marines work for now?

Ed. The new GAO report says the V-22 can carry only 15-18 combat loaded Marines, rather than the claim of 24 Marines.  Remember that 19 Marines died in the April 2000 operational evaluation (e.g. 3 crewmen and 16 troops)  Will Bell-Boeing argue that it was unable to verify this during testing due to funding constraints? 

I've also learned that the CH-46Es capabilities which I listed from the Marine Corps website are misleading. The CH-46E design states it can carry 25 troops, and 8800lbs of cargo (see Boeing technical stats).  The Marine Corps has imposed limits of 18 troops and 4500lbs. due to their aircraft's age.  The V-22s interior cabin dimensions are (H-5.5ft W-5.7ft L-20.8) which is smaller than the CH-46E (H-6ft W-6ft L-24.2 ft).  With a height of only 5.5ft, the V-22s will have many hunched-back crew chiefs and a lot of passenger head banging.

M1A3 Tank 

     Comments on Carlton Meyer's suggested improvements to the M1 Abrams battle tank.  Some countries field tanks with a light cannon in addition to a 7.62mm machine gun as a coaxial weapon. A 50 caliber MG will be easier to retro-fit and should be nearly as effective, giving the gunner cost effective capability against light armour to at least 2000m. The Israelis use .50 BHMGs mounted above the main gun and these are used for both combat and training.

     Main Gun improvements. Many years ago Jane's Defence Yearbook compared the Rheinmental smooth bore and Royal Ordinance rifled 120mm guns. It concluded that the rifled gun was the better weapon since it was more versatile. American and German operational experience has confirmed this. One of the reasons that the British gun is more versatile is that it has a HESH round. As well as being an effective anti-tank round it is also a potent demolition round and eliminates the need for a separate HE round. It is unlikely that the Abrams will switch to the Royal Ordinance but it should be possible to issue a fin or drag stabilised HESH round. Other rounds that may prove useful are Canister, WP, Thermobaric and Flame-capsule.

      Loader's position. I've suggested Mk-19 GMGs mounted above the main gun for other vehicle types, but for a system such as the Abrams that has a human loader it makes more sense to mount this weapon on the loader's hatch. This allows the most suitable belt of ammunition to be loaded to suit the tactical situation. Possible loads include HE/HEDP, smoke, flare and chaff decoys or flechette rounds.

    Commander's position. The commander's firing position may retain the BHMG, probably with a mantellet so the commander can operate "heads up". The capabilities of BHMG tend to complement those of the loader's Mk-19. The Commander might have a Mk-19 instead of an M2 and the use of two such weapons would allow one to use offensive loads such as HE while the other fires decoy, smoke or flechette ammo.  Alternate armaments for this position include the .50 calibre mini-gun The ability to fire rapid ten round bursts may actually reduce ammo expenditure. 

    Gun Shields:  Some Israeli tanks have a commander's hatch that can be lifted straight up like a manhole cover. A transparent armored screen could be fitted beneath this. This would be opaque to infra-red so the commander can operate heads up and enjoy good visibility while not giving away the tank's position to thermal imagers.  

                           Phil West

Artillery Resupply

    That was a very good piece on field artillery ammo supply.    Resupply is where the artillery units collide with the logisticians.  The supply system wants trucks carrying a load forward, followed by immediate unloading and return for another trip.  This results in the creation of huge ammo dumps scattered over the battlefield.  If tactical movement becomes necessary, the artillery unit simply drives away and leaves these dumps behind.  The alternate method is to use supply trucks as rolling magazines following tactical units around the battlefield.  Tactical battalions love this approach, but it's the last thing division and corps supply officers want for obvious reasons.  

    This supply problem was a big driver for 35 years behind all the precision guided munitions developments in the Army and USAF.  That's one reason the attack helicopter became so popular.  Since moving ammo to the gun system is hard, then move the gun system to the ammo.

    Larry Altersitz's piece had a good insight:   "Reducing the number of tubes per battery is an option, but the loss of a tubes leave a maneuver BATTALION with less firepower when really needed."   The last three words identify an immense underemployment problem to my combined arms mind.  We can't afford the extravagance of keeping 6 tubes per FA battalion hanging around waiting for a moment that may never arrive.  And when that moment does arrive the ammunition probably won't be available anyway. 

    One idea I've dabbled with is developing an unguided rocket (10-15km) for UH-60 Blackhawks to haul up and fire in volley from masked positions. With GPS to locate and computers to calculate firing data the accuracy will be pretty good.    The beauty of this is the firing platform easily returns to the rearm/refuel point.  Now that we're out of enemy artillery range we can site the rearm/refuel point for easy supply truck access.  This is old gunship hat.  Using the 1/3-1/3-1/3 rule (on station-enroute-rearm/refuel)  a Blackhawk company with 4 CH-47s for supply could be pretty responsive for fire support.  This is exactly the kind of surge support for situations described as "when really needed". 

    This would be a secondary mission for assault lift companies.   You'd get the rapid concentration and lateral flexibility in close indirect fire support that Apache gives in Hellfire direct support.  If we're really smart we'll develop a cheap disposable prepacked rocket pod to hang on the pylon.  Super geniuses will pay attention to packing/crating costs and build that protection into this pod instead of wasting wood or plastic for separate rocket containers.  Thus we simply stack them at the ammunition plant and ship all the way to the firing point after which the UH-60 drops them.  With counter-battery where it's at today shoot n scoot is already SOP.  Rotors scoot better than tracks or wheels.

    Larry wrote an excellent piece explaining the many separate handling operations needed to put 155mm rounds on target.  Every one of these handling operations is another chokepoint.  The ideal to work to is to move a container packaged at the factory and used in that state.  One vehicle then moves it from ammo dump to ship and another truck from quay to loading into the weapon.  This is why MLRS and ATACMs are so successful and so loved. 

    Considering the price tags now on the artillery's latest 155mm system (system cost from firing point back thru the system) it's time to evaluate alternate ideas.  Looking at an armored/mechanized brigade task force from front to rear the question comes, do we really need 18 155mm tubes behind it?  This task force already has hundreds of precision guided weapons of vast destructive power.  Battalion mortar power too has gone way up with the 120mm.  Maybe the answer is 6 or 9 tubes in three firing sections and a surge capability to mass more indirect fires at key moments with something like UH-60 artillery helicopters.

    I think the handwriting may be on the wall for heavy tubed artillery above 105mm in direct support.   It just isn't as prominent as it was before TOW,  HELLFIRE and the M2 Bradley with all its anti-personnel weapons.     I'm well aware of 'deep battle' and 'long range interdiction', etc.  They sound great but are just buzz words unless the brigade task force also has real time over-the horizon intelligence that can feed firing data to the tubes. 

                                       Mark Gallmeier

JSF Guns

     Carlton Meyer suggested that a gun turret be mounted on the Joint Strike Fighter. I'm not sure that a fully traversing turret would be practical on a small supersonic aircraft, but a cannon mounted on the side of the body so that it can be depressed or even elevated has potential. Better still, have a cannon on each side to maintain symmetry, for redundancy, and because two guns firing for half a second are more likely to take out a fast moving jet than one firing for a second.

       An aircraft equipped with depressing gun mounts can fire at a ground target without losing altitude, or can keep its guns trained on a target for a longer duration.  Mr Meyer also suggests as 40mm grenade launcher as a tailgun for a fighter. This would be particularly effective if the weapon used Ring Aerofoil Grenades. Ring Aerofoil Grenades (RAGs) were used as helicopter armament in South East Asia and have a flatter trajectory and greater range than conventional 40mm grenades. It is likely these projectiles would be fitted with time fusing so they detonate at varying distances behind the aircraft, to the detriment of any pursuer.

                                            Phil West