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Air Transportation: V-22s In Iraq
   Next Article → RUSSIA: The Rot Continues
November 27, 2007: The U.S. Marine Corps has had ten of their new V-22 [PHOTO] Osprey tilt rotor aircraft in Iraq for two months now. The marines won't say how many sorties the aircraft has flown, but there have been no mishaps so far. The V-22 squadron (VMM-263) [VIDEO] has 200 marines and sailors assigned. The V-22 is able to do the same work in fewer sorties, as the CH-46E helicopter it is replacing. That should mean at least several hundred sorties (and hours) so far for the V22s. Up to a few months ago, marine V-22s had already spent 20,000 hours in the air. The marines have got the accident rate down to about what other heavy helicopters suffer, but it is suspected that they are taking special care of the V-22s in Iraq, to avoid any accidents, and feared threats from Congress to cancel the program.

 

The V22 is a complex piece of work, and this has resulted in a lot of development delays. Work on the V-22 began three decades ago. At the moment, the U.S. Department of Defense has approved the purchase of 171 V-22 aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps, and 31 for U.S. Air Force units operating with SOCOM (Special Operations Command). The plan involves buying up to 35 V-22s a year, from 2008 to 2013. The marines have received nearly 60 V-22s so far.

 

The marine V-22s can carry 24 troops 700 kilometers (vertical take-off on a ship, level flight, landing, and return) at 360 kilometers an hour. The V-22 is replacing the CH-46E helicopter, which can carry 12 troops 350 kilometers at a speed of 135 kilometers an hour. The V-22 can carry a 10,000-pound external sling load 135 kilometers, while the CH-46E can carry 3,000 pounds only 90 kilometers.

 

The U.S. Air Force component of SOCOM will use the V-22 to replace the current MH-53J special operations helicopters. Unlike the U.S. Marine Corps version, the SOCOM MV-22 will have lots more expensive electronics on board. This will help the MV-22 when traveling into hostile territory. The MV-22 also carries a terrain avoidance radar, an additional 900 gallons of fuel and more gadgets in general.

 

The 25 ton MV-22 is a major improvement on the MH-53J, with three times the range, and a higher cruising speed (at 410 kilometers an hour, twice that of the helicopter). The MV-22 can travel about nearly a thousand kilometers, in any weather, and land or pick up 18 fully equipped commandoes. The SOCOM MV-22 won't be ready for combat for another two years.

 

 

On the downside, the V-22 is several years behind schedule. It's a very complex aircraft, and has encountered more development problems than expected. It's the first application of the tilt-rotor technology to do active service. The air force is already working on improvements (to make the V22 more reliable and easier to maintain), that won't be installed for another five years. The V-22 will give the marines and SOCOM a lot more capability, but, as it often the case, it will be a lot more expensive. The initial production models of the MV-22 will cost close to $100 million each. SOCOM insists on a high degree of reliability for its aircraft. Commando operations cannot tolerate too many mistakes without getting fatally derailed.

 

Next Article → RUSSIA: The Rot Continues
  

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AA Cunningham    Corrections   11/27/2007 6:50:01 AM
Up to a few months ago, marine V-22s had already spent 20,000 hours in the air.
 
In excess of 30,000 hours since RTF in May of 2002.

The V-22 is replacing the CH-46E helicopter, which can carry 12 troops 135 kilometers at a speed of 350 kilometers an hour.
 
The author needs to check their gouge. On a good day, a Sea Knight can lift 8 combat equipped Marines and cruise speed is about 110 KCAS. Also 350 KMH is equivalent to 217 MPH, nearly double what it actually is.
 
The 25 ton MV-22 is a major improvement on the MH-53J, with three times the range, and a higher cruising speed (at 410 kilometers an hour, twice that of the helicopter).
 
The V-22 has a cruise speed double that of the MH-53J but only 60 KMH faster than a CH-46E? Wrong.
 
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longrifle       11/27/2007 8:22:26 AM
I'm not an aircraft buff but but the Ospray interests me.  I'd bet that all the perceived negatives leveled against it - from expense to reliability - were also said about helicopters in general during their infancy.
 
Glad to see it coming in service. 
 
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otsego    Corrections cont.   11/28/2007 5:27:15 PM
For reference, the Marine Corps has the MV-22. The Air Force/SOCOM has the CV-22.
 
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sc55    Special forces?   12/3/2007 5:53:12 PM
With high speed low altitude flight and an ability to take off and land in rugged locations this aircraft seems to be very well suited for special forces use. It is less clear that it is needed so badly in Iraq right now. We have plenty of secure air bases and most if not all of the fighting is in fairly urban areas or very close to urban areas. It is a little like taking the Concord from LA to Las Vegas.
I think more likely the idea is to give the aircraft some shakedown time in the harsh environment that Iraq does provide in spades,  heat extremes, sandstorms, etc. There is a high probability, given it's record, that one or more may crash. This is the chance to make mistakes and learn from them.   If your going to mess up you want to do it with expendable troopers not special operations assets!
 
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phrogdriver       12/3/2007 8:32:29 PM
Those Marines would probably resent being refered to as "expendable."  They aren't.
 
Having flown the CH-46 and having flown the V-22, I can say I'd much rather be flying the V-22 in that environment.
 
It would have made a bigger difference during the earliest phase of the war, but it will still do a better job than the phrog in PMC and casevac.  Its ability to alter its profile will make it better able to counter both the enemy and the problems encountered in the desert.  It can fly over most threat envelopes and over most sandstorms if required.  Of course its speed makes it much more responsive.
 
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phrogdriver       1/6/2008 10:41:10 PM
A -46 can lift 8 combat-loaded Marines on a good day?  I didn't spot this anomaly in the post the first time I saw it.  Apparently all those times I carried 15 Marines plus cargo I was hallucinating.  Obviously ambient conditions will vary the cargo loadout and may even require a little fuel adjustment, but the 8 figure is drastically low, unless you're going to a very high altitude, which doesn't make for a "good day" in most rotorcraft.
 
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