View Full Version : Tilt rotor lifts Corps’ air fleet of the future

01-03-04, 06:43 AM
Tilt rotor lifts Corps’ air fleet of the future
Submitted by: Headquarters Marine Corps
Story Identification Number: 2003123172142
Story by Staff Sgt. Cindy Fisher

PATUXTENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION, Md. (Oct. 1, 2003) -- The V-22 Osprey program has suffered serious setbacks throughout its development, but program leaders here are confident these problems have been resolved and they are ready to move forward.

“This is a warfighter’s airplane,” said Col. Daniel Schultz, the Osprey program manager. “We have confidence in this aircraft. We’re ready to bring it back from flight testing and give it back to the fleet.”

With the Landing Craft, Air-Cushioned and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, the Osprey is an integral part of the Corps’ Expeditionary Maneuver Warfighting concept. This tilt-rotor aircraft takes off like a helicopter, then the two rotors mounted to its wings tilt forward to allow it to fly as a plane, converting the craft from helicopter hover mode to airplane mode in 12 seconds. This conversion allows the craft to take off and land in smaller places than an airplane, but fly farther and faster than a helicopter.

It is this capability that makes the aircraft an integral part of the expeditionary warfighting concept, said Schultz. “It can go deep and come back.”

The CH-46, which the Osprey is set to replace, has a range of 160 nautical miles, while the Osprey’s range is 2,100 with one refueling. This increased range will get Marines to the battlefield faster and from further away. “The Osprey will provide our Marines with a needed edge in the complex operations they will face while defending Americans and American interests in the 21st century,” said Gen. James L. Jones during his tenure as Commandant of the Marine Corps.

The advantages of the Osprey are obvious. It can fly at a maximum altitude of 26,000 feet, about 15,000 feet higher than a helicopter. This innovative aircraft can also fly nearly twice as fast and three times farther than a helicopter and needs less runway length than a traditional airplane—just under 500 feet.


But, the Osprey, built by The Boeing Company and Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., has experienced serious drawbacks since its first flight March 19, 1989. The program’s mechanical, technical and even political difficulties have delayed its entry into the fleet and at times even threatened to end the program.

The 1986 estimated cost of a single V-22 was about $24 million with a projected 923 to be built. The first Bush administration cancelled the project in April 1989, by which time the cost of a single craft was estimated at $35 million. However, Congress continued to allocate funding for the program in a November 1989 authorization. Throughout Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney’s tenure, he and Congress wrestled over the question of the V-22 as he felt the project would cost more than the amount appropriated. Eventually he relented, proposing that $1.5 billion be spent in fiscal years 1992 and 1993 to develop the project. The arrival of the Clinton administration into the White House in 1992 provided new support for the program.

Osprey crashes have resulted in 30 deaths. No one died in a June 11, 1991, Osprey crash, but a crash July 20, 1992, in Virginia killed three Marines and four civilians. The Osprey was grounded for 11 months after this crash. A crash in Arizona April 8, 2000, killed 19 Marines, grounding the aircraft for two months. Another crash in North Carolina Dec. 11 of the same year killed four Marines. After the December crash, the Osprey was grounded until May 29, 2002.

The Virginia crash resulted from a combination of an engine surge, nacelle fire and a drive shaft failure, according to the V-22 Resource Book. The Arizona crash was blamed on a situation called a vortex ring state. A vortex ring state can result when a rotary wing aircraft with a high rate of descent and a low air speed falls into its own rotor turbulence and loses lift. The December crash was caused by a hydraulic system failure coupled with a software glitch.


In June 2003, after a year of extensive testing, program officials held a briefing and flight demonstration to highlight the progress made from mechanical and technical errors revealed by the 2000 crashes. Schultz extolled the extensive testing and provided comprehensive charts of flight-test data.

“We have now solved all the aeromechanical issues. We have solved the logistical issues. … We have solved the engineering issues,” he said.

“The V-22 is much less susceptible to vortex ring state,” Schultz said. “It takes a lot more to get a V-22 into the vortex ring state than any other helicopter.”

The tilt rotor technology even allows for a quicker recovery from this problem by tilting the rotor forward from the helicopter mode and flying out of the vortex ring state, said Lt. Col. Kevin Gross, the chief test pilot from the Marine Corps for the program. To further safeguard against the problem, a device was installed that gives pilots 18 seconds of warning that they might be entering vortex ring state.

Computer software problems have been revised and the hydraulic lines redesigned, resolving the problems that caused one of the crashes.

“We have put into place a standard that’s higher than for any other air asset,” Schultz said. “We are putting the Osprey through hell and back because it might have to go there. We are going to know (its limits) completely before the fleet ever gets it.”

The Osprey program will continue test flights at Patuxent River into 2005. An MV-22 squadron stood up at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C. and after a year of training will start operational evaluation trials in December 2004. If everything goes as planned, 2006 could see the first combat-ready operational squadron, Schultz said.

“The fleet will like (the V-22), no doubt about it,” said retired Lt. Col. Steve Grohsmeyer, a Boeing test pilot for the Osprey who also flew CH-53 for the Marine Corps.

The Osprey is ready to take the next step, Schultz said. “Now it’s time to start buying the airplane at an efficient production rate so we can get these airplanes to the fleet a lot sooner.”

The current production rate calls for about 10 aircraft per year. “We are looking at some number of airplanes in ’05 to begin smoothing the production rate, and eventually we want to ramp up to 36 a year,” Schultz said. “When we start buying for all three services we hope to be up to 40-plus a year.”

The Marine Corps is slated to receive a total of 360 MV-22s at a current cost of $68.7 million per aircraft. The program hopes to trim that cost to $58 million per aircraft by fiscal year 2010.


Boeing test pilots put the MV-22 Osprey through its paces at a demonstration for the media at Patuxtent River Naval Air Station in June 2003. The pilots demonstrated the craft's ability to convert from a hover mode to an airplane mode. Photo by: Staff Sgt. Cindy Fisher




01-04-04, 09:46 AM
Drifter: How about a few facts to go along with the company line?

It would be nice if that article were all true, but evidence points to it being misleading.

$68 million ea-Last year they said $40 million ea. By their thinking, increased production #'s should bring per ac down. It evidently has increased the cost by $28 million per ac. On top of that, the cost cited is only for a/c procurement. When you consider the cost of testing (never ending evidently), modifications, training, upgrades; the cost, according to Gen McCorkle is closer to $83 million each. It may or may not come down with increased production #'s.

Ever wonder why they use the CH-46 to deliver ground troops into LZ's more than they use 53's? The 53 can fly faster,higher, further, and haul more troops per trip. It's simple. The 53 is too expensive to expose to ground fire on a daily basis. The Osprey is going to suffer a similar fate, if it ever sees combat.

Many of you here have flown into LZ's on Huey's, 46's, 53's, and '34s. Remember the descents? Come in fast, sharp angle, settle with power, flare up at the last minute and sit it down.
You will never ever ever see a MV-22 attempt this. This is where vortex ring state comes in. In simple terms, it's flying into your own rotor wash. There's no air there to support lift. No amt of adding power will help. In fact, it makes it worse. You have to quickly rotate the engine nacells out of verticle, fly forward, out of the area of disturbed air, and then sit down. This means a long slow descent into an LZ, or overshooting the LZ. How many of you want to face that prospect? Vortex ring state frequently happens on only one side, which tends to make the still functioning side of the a/c push up, flipping the ac over. HROD (high rate of descent) is tricky at best, in a straight line. Any manuever outside straight is going to be a nightmare.

Bell-Boeing Joint Program Office, Patuxent River, Md., is being awarded an $817,000,000 ceiling-priced advanced acquisition contract for long lead effort and materials associated with the manufacture and delivery of 11 fiscal year 2004 Lot VIII low rate initial production V-22 aircraft (nine MV-22 aircraft and two CV-22 aircraft). Work will be performed in Ridley Park, Pa. (50%); Fort Worth, Texas (35%); and Amarillo, Texas (15%) and is expected to be completed in October 2006. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-03-C-6517).

Do the math for these 11 ac alone. $817 million divided by 11=?
It sure as hell isn't $68 million!!!

Then, we have this late development:


01-04-04, 11:24 AM
I agree Gray! DOD, Navy, and the Corp have a ton on money in this project. It is hard to see past that, and the contractor states it is a good machine.

One point I think needs made. The 53E had problems when it hit the Fleet. They have corrected them, now we have a good aircraft. Do you think the problems with the V-22 can be corrected?

01-04-04, 12:05 PM
Any problem can be corrected if you throw enough time, money and manpower at it. Do we have it?

01-04-04, 12:48 PM
This his been 'batted' about a fair bit;


Semper Fi


01-04-04, 01:03 PM
Here is a bit of a 'compilation' on this subject;

I've been talking to other Marines about this,
The Corps, and the whole military for that matter, needs some serious replacements for all lift capacity helos. We recieved the last '53 to be produced. The last Heavy lift AC. The few 46s, and all the 47s, are getting a little long in the tooth. The longevity of all these airframes will be prolonged, but as with all AC, this is limited.

In my mind, the Osprey is going to be a heck of an AC. The heavy lift version is going to be incredible, and needed, by the time it reaches production. Look at our medium and heavy lift issues now.

On the drawing board is a QTR - Quad Tiltrotor or V-44 that may be used to replace the CH-53E and perhaps even the KC-130.

The dynamic and dimension that these AC will provide for, will change battlefield tactics and logistics, BIG TIME! Twice as fast, somewhere around twice the range, etc. And the V-44, well that's gonna be just amazing.

However, I think the program should be halted, evaled, and restructured for efficiency.

The fact remains, we have a lot invested in it already, past the point of no return, IMHO. And the fact also remains, we need replacements. And the performance of this type of airframe in the 'V' program is irrefutable in comparison to conventional rotary configurations.

What to do though then?

Restart production (with superior drivetrain upgrades) to the 47 and the 53? A temporary fix?

The airframe 'form factor' that the 'V' program represents a huge leap in technology.

This is a tough one for me. As an a former Plane Captain, skydiver and A&P, I look at this rig like a little kid; I simply love it!

Would we you say at this point it is a program management issue? Or problems with support in regard to timeline? Or leading edge technology, with am R&D lead time, that cannot be accurately estimated?

Tough items, all, to be sure!

Read this ( I think it was Greybeard that offered this info originally), as reference; http://armedservices.house.gov/pres...5-21weldon.html

It's what Congressman Kurt Weldon said in a speech to the Subcomitte on Military Readiness in 2001.

The 'V' program, unfortuantely, has been close to it's same state for going on five years (again, Greybeard's reference).

Semper Fi


01-04-04, 03:09 PM
Here's what I find so hilarious.

Tilt rotor lifts Corps’ air fleet of the future

It carries the date Oct 2003. It could just as easily be 2002, 2001, 2000,1999,1998,1997, etc etc, (14 yrs) and probably will be just as valid to be reissued in 2004, 2005 and beyond. People release this propaganda like it's big news. It isn't. It's old. Very old. Some people who started with the Osprey have gone to retirement on it. Talk about your hangar queens!!

01-04-04, 03:35 PM
Originally posted by greybeard
Here's what I find so hilarious.

It carries the date Oct 2003. It could just as easily be 2002, 2001, 2000,1999,1998,1997, etc etc, (14 yrs) and probably will be just as valid to be reissued in 2004, 2005 and beyond. People release this propaganda like it's big news. It isn't. It's old. Very old. Some people who started with the Osprey have gone to retirement on it. Talk about your hangar queens!!

I'll agree on the 'hanger queen' status. It just really seems to me to be past the 'point of return', in my opinion.

Again, reform of the the program itself, would be the issue, in my opinion.

I sure hope your wrong about the terrible, ongoing history of this program!

Semper Fi


Semper Fi


01-04-04, 04:41 PM
Again, reform of the the program itself, would be the issue, in my opinion.

I sure hope your wrong about the terrible, ongoing history of this program

Well, it's been shut down, restarted, reformed, re-evaluated several times if memory serves me correctly. Just doing a quick looksee, I know that as long ago as 1995, Tiltrotor Times had this to say:

Flight Test Status
As of November 20, 1995 Aircraft No. 3 320 flights 364.0 hours
Balance of Fleet 619 flights 715.4 hours
Totals 939 flights 1,079.4 hours


The above link leads to the first issue of Tiltrotor Times. Read down to the bottom-you'll see where they touted about a $29.4 million 'flyaway pricetag". It didn't happen--yet. That link also let's you know that as long ago as '95, the USMC had at least one available for evaluations-fastroping from the rear ramp.

From Boeings V22 page:
In 1982, Bell and Boeing teamed to develop the V-22 Osprey.

The Bell-Boeing V-22 in the 1980s and 90s proved tiltrotor capabilities, mission suitability, producibility and affordability.

The U.S. Government and Industry have invested 40 years and $5 billion developing tiltrotor technology.

So, evidently they began building/developing them in 82. So it's 12 instead of 14 yrs of problems. Now, you know when a manufactorer admits $5 billion, it is really far more.
Here's all the good news:(they convieniently leave the bad stuff out)


01-04-04, 04:49 PM
I didn't know the 'depth' of the issues! Thanks Greybeard!

This IS really bad! I had no idea! Well, actually, to a degree I guess I did. I suppose I just didn't WANT to.

And, perusing some of the info you've posted, and some that I've seen looking around, there is some SERIOUS issues in regard to possible corruption. Sad stuff.

I guess we'll see what happens. I hope zero Marines or Boeing employees are killed between now and that point in time.

Semper Fi