Thursday, September 29, 2005
The V-22 Osprey: A Blessing or a Curse?
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Wednesday gave the go-ahead to begin full-rate production of the V-22 Osprey, the hybrid helicopter-airplane that the Marine Corps considers vital to the future of its air fleet. (Fox)
The concept of the V-22 Osprey is amazing. The technology is state of the art. The mission it will accomplish is vital. So why the concern? This new weapons system is so complex it's almost too fragile to be used in the harsh and unforgiving world of military operations. Certainly it's been tested and retested, but none of those tests involved small arms damage to the critical fiber optic cables that run throughout the aircraft. The tests didn't involve extreme last-minute evasive maneuvers pilots make when an RPG or shoulder-launched missile is launched at them from a rooftop in Baghdad. Generally speaking, this aircraft has yet to prove that it has what it takes to survive in today's operational environment.
The Marine Corps is ordering a few hundred of these aircraft, and is quickly reshaping their insertion and extraction doctrines around the capabilities they're hoping it has. The Air Force is ordering 50, and the Navy is getting just under 40 of them. We of course have confidence that the DoD leaders and Generals who have approved the Osprey know what they're doing, but we would be lying if we said we weren't uneasy about it. After all, who's going to be most affected by it; the GS-15s who signed the contracts or the Airmen and Marines who must fly it into combat and depend on it for survival on a daily basis.
The big picture discussion regarding the Osprey and other 'High-Tech' weapons is the balance between numbers and capabilities. Is it better to spend 50 billion dollars to buy a limited number of 'fragile' aircraft, or should we spend the same amount to purchase and upgrade many more of the combat proven systems we currently use? In other words, buy 400 Osprey vs. 1000 Chinooks or Blackhawks. Once again, that's where confidence in the leadership kicks in. One would hope that the leadership is knowledgeable that the one of a kind capabilities of the Osprey out-perform the existing capabilities of our current systems, making them obsolete.
Is this post simply an opinion? Yes. Am I concerned? You bet your ass I am. When nearly 2 dozen fellow service members have died in Osprey crashes so far, it's easy to see why many people are concerned. We need to have confidence in our weapons. We need to make sure minor 'software glitches' such as this never happens during combat.
A lot of us will feel more confident about the Osprey once it has proven itself worthy. Until then, expect to see a lot of the Osprey pilots and passengers crossing fingers and praying more than usual as they board the aircraft.
posted by El Capitan at 11:37 AM
For some reason I've been under the impression that the Osprey had been in continuous use for years? Hmmm...2:31 PM
Continuous testing... but not full-up use. Actually the testing was stopped quite a bit due to accidents and things breaking, but supposedly it's ready for production now.4:20 PM
A weapons system via Congressman from contracting districts. Or, a weapons system via Congress. Sorta like the Beretta 9mm. Scary. Will the troops want the Blackhawk back like many want the .45 Auto back?12:24 AM
Please check for other articles on the
Osprey. The Dallas Morning News had 1
about the revised testing.
One advantage that the Osprey has over
all Helicopters is the lack of the
All troops on the ground would hear
would be prop/engine noise.
The has also been a request for a new
version with 2 wings with tilt rotors
open to all contractors not just
existing Osprey contractors.
During the NEW tests, the vortex ring
effect that killed all the Marines
earlier was extensively analyzed &
Thanks for your great weblog.
Please keep writing.
That's scary to know that several serviceman died in the testing of the Osprey. It sounds like it has the potential to be a great resource, however until it's necessarily refined I wouldn't volunteer for that job.11:27 PM
"For some reason I've been under the impression that the Osprey had been in continuous use for years? Hmmm..."
It was in "development" for a good 20 years. What does THAT tell you?
Nice blog - Great Article...8:32 AM