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    US Marines See MV-22 Improvements
    Aviation Week's DTI | Robert Wall | June 24, 2010
    This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.
    MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. -- The U.S. Marine Corps says MV-22 performance and reliability are improving, but operators are still pushing for further enhancements, including improving the system's firepower.

    The Marines have been using the GAU-17 mini-gun interim weapon system in deployed operations (they can also ramp-mount a machine gun). While the weapon has proved useful, Marine officials say the system could be improved.

    In particular, the ammunition feed system, range and software controlling the gun are viewed as areas for enhancement. A larger caliber round also is drawing interest.

    The Marines do not carry the gun on every mission, in part because it reduces the number of troops that can be transported from 24 to 18.

    The long-term plan is for a more permanent weapon, but the path forward has not been fully defined.

    Meanwhile, Marine officers point out that they have seen improvements in their MV-22Bs. For instance, a software upgrade to the full authority digital engine control and flight control computer has boosted the tiltrotor's maximum speed to 275 kt., or 30 kt. more than before. The fuel burn has increased, but engine durability is not expected to be significantly affected.

    Another performance enhancement has been an increase in the maximum nose-up angle to 30 deg. from 20 deg.

    Service officials say they are also benefiting from reliability improvements now being introduced. The engine air particle accelerator, for instance, has been upgraded to have less failures and do a better job filtering sand. Blades have also been upgraded, as have swashplate actuators.

    One of the issues early in the MV-22 operational deployment period has been poor reliability. "I didn't drop a single mission over there," one officer says.

    The Marines also assert that the MV-22 has shown to be resilient on the battlefield. Tiltrotors that suffered damage from small arms fire were always able to return to action the next day, a senior officer says. Curing the composite patches to fix holes often proved to be the slowest portion of the fix.

    The Marines have championed the unique tiltrotor aircraft through decades of programmatic challenges and political attacks in Washington. Some Democratic lawmakers remain critical still, even as the V-22 has become operational in current wars. Meanwhile, officials across the Defense Department continue to gird for another round of cost-cutting as the Pentagon crafts its Fiscal 2012 budget request, including the first of a series of annual spending changes designed to save $100 billion over five years.

  • #2
    If they could only find a way to defend themselves.

    That's been one of my main concerns with this a/c. If it can't defend itself it either can't or won't be used in hot zones or it will put our troops in more danger than they need to be.

    At least with our old .50 cal we could make them duck. And we ALWAYS carried them on missions. We didn't take them out so we could carry more troops.