Murphy's Law: Good-Enough Beats On Better


January 23, 2012:  While users of the new American V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft are happy with their unique hybrid, the accountants are less pleased. It was recently revealed that the V-22 readiness (ready for action) rate was only 53 percent, versus 82 percent that the manufacturer had promised. The problem is that, despite being a wonderful feat of engineering that is now capable of serving in a combat zone, the V-22 is very mechanically complex and very expensive and difficult to keep operational. This is only the latest problem the V-22 has had with costs and reliability.

Last year, it was revealed that the lifetime cost of operating the V-22 had increased 64 percent over the last three years (to $121.5 billion). Although the major user (the U.S. Marine Corps) MV-22s have flown over 100,000 hours in Afghanistan and have an excellent safety and reliability record they are very expensive (over $116 million each). With major cuts in the defense budget coming there is pressure to cease production of the MV-22 and put more money into cheaper helicopters. The marines want to spend $8 billion to buy another 122 MV-22s. Coming budget cuts could make that impossible, and the only fallback position is some cheaper helicopters.

There is still a lot of enthusiasm for the CH-53K. Three years ago, the marines decided to replace their elderly CH-53Ds with CH-53Ks, rather than the more expensive MV-22s. The CH-53K was to cost about a third as much as an MV-22. Replacing the CH-53Ds means more CH-53Ks, for a total of about 200. It's expected that the final costs of the CH-53K may be higher but still less than half the cost of an MV-22.

While the MV-22 is a superior helicopter transport (greater speed and range) in a combat zone, helicopters are a lot cheaper. The coming budget cuts will probably see the marines cutting MV-22 purchases and falling back on conventional helicopters like the CH-53K to maintain their battlefield mobility. It's another case of good-enough beating out better.


Article Archive

Murphy's Law: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close