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Mv-22 Full Rate Production

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  • Mv-22 Full Rate Production

    Wall Street Journal
    September 29, 2005
    Pg. 6

    Pentagon Clears Full Production For Osprey Aircraft

    By Andy Pasztor and J. Lynn Lunsford, Staff Reporters Of The Wall Street Journal

    In a decision estimated to be valued at about $19 billion to a team headed by units of Textron Inc. and Boeing Co., the Pentagon approved full production for the V-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft beset by budget and technical problems stretching back to the late 1980s.

    The decision by the Pentagon's top weapons-acquisition board had been expected, and follows years of Congressional battles, design changes and flight tests to correct earlier deficiencies in the novel aircraft, which lands and takes off like a helicopter but rotates its engines forward so it can cruise as fast as an airplane. The Marine Corps and the Air Force together plan to replace aging troop-transport and rescue helicopters with more than 400 of the new aircraft.

    During more than two decades and an investment of almost $20 billion by the government, the Osprey was heralded as a revolutionary aircraft. But it was repeatedly targeted for elimination by the Pentagon and then suffered two fatal crashes that threatened its survival. Driven by the perseverance of the Marine Corps and its champions on Capitol Hill, yesterday's development illustrates how hard it can be to kill a major program once it gets under way and gains hometown supporters.

    By ramping up annual production to 48 aircraft from the current 11 a year, Textron said its Bell Helicopter unit eventually expects to see revenue from the Osprey program climb above $1.5 billion a year. "Tilt-rotor technology has come to life in a big way," Michael Redenbaugh, the unit's chief executive, said in a release.

    As early as 1989 during the first Bush administration, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney launched an unsuccessful effort to kill the program on the grounds that it was too expensive and the technology was too immature. By far the worst setback for the program came in 2000, when two of the aircraft crashed during testing, killing 23 Marines. Investigators found that the tilt-rotor was particularly susceptible to a phenomenon in which a quickly descending helicopter can drop into its own rotor turbulence and potentially flip out of control.

    After those crashes, the Pentagon required the program to undergo a major review, including design changes to hydraulic and other systems, as well as to develop software and flight restrictions that would prevent similar accidents. In mid-June, officials gave the aircraft a clean bill of health, setting in motion the steps toward full production. Yet some critics remain skeptical that the changes to the V-22 will be enough to fully protect it during aggressive maneuvers military aircraft often experience, particularly in combat situations.

  • #2
    Fdyp/pom A/c Cuts

    Marines Plan Major Budget Changes NewsStand | Jason Sherman | August 24, 2006
    The Marine Corps is planning steep cuts to one of its largest modernization programs -- the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle -- as part of a wider effort to recalibrate its forces to better fight irregular combatants, according to internal Pentagon budget documents.

    The cuts are spelled out in a summary of the Marine Corps' new six-year spending plan obtained by The plan also includes “significant changes” to tactical aviation, including purchases of 25 fewer MV-22 tiltrotor Osprey aircraft and 35 fewer Joint Strike Fighter aircraft between fiscal years 2008 and 2013.

    The Marine Corps six-year program “has been rebalanced to shift resources from conventional to irregular capabilities and capacities,” states a 10-page executive summary of the service's program objective memorandum for FY-08 to FY-13.

    Readjustments include increases to Marine Corps intelligence and command and control programs and cuts to spending on air defense capabilities that will result in termination of two programs -- the Complementary Low Altitude Weapons System (CLAWS) and the Highly Expeditionary Long Range Air Surveillance Radar (HELRASR).

    Also facing cuts in the new six-year plan are the Expeditionary Fire Support System and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, “despite their capability to support irregular warfare operations,” according to the summary.

    While new forms of training to focus on irregular warfare will be added to the Marine Corps instruction regime, spending on overall training will be cut by $1.5 billion.

    Earlier this summer, the Marine Corps plan was folded into the Navy program objective memorandum, which was submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense in mid-August as an integrated naval investment proposal.

    The Office of the Secretary of Defense, along with the White House Office of Management and Budget, will review the proposed service plans in the coming months before finalizing by January an overall Defense Department budget blueprint for FY-08 to FY-13.

    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld issued Strategic Planning Guidance this spring directing the services to increase their capabilities to deal with irregular challenges, following through on a central recommendation of the Quadrennial Defense Review, delivered to Congress in February.

    The Office of the Secretary of Defense also directed each of the services to ensure their POM submissions reflect capabilities required by each of the combatant commanders to fulfill “CONPLAN 7500,” the military's classified library of contingency plans for the global war on terrorism.

    The Marine Corps' POM proposal -- a $126 billion six-year plan that includes $10.5 billion for Marine Corps procurement and $3.3 billion for research and development -- adjusts its weapon system investments to reflect this guidance on new challenges.

    Among the changes are plans to slash the projected buy of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle by 43 percent, from a total of 1,013 amphibious assault vehicles to as few as 578. Plans to curtail this program were first reported in June by Inside the Navy. The Marine Corps, according to the summary, would use savings garnered to invest in “irregular platforms of the future,” which include the Light Armored Vehicle-Personnel variant, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and the Internally Transportable Vehicle. The ITV is designed to be carried by the tiltrotor MV-22 Osprey aircraft.

    “Investments into these new platforms give the combatant commander versatile and scalable mobility options optimized for irregular warfare, resulting in a better balance of irregular and conventional capabilities,” states the summary.

    Purchases of the tiltrotor MV-22 Osprey aircraft will be capped at 30 per year; the previous ceiling was 36, according to the 10-page summary. The spending proposal reduces the planned buy across the six-year spending period by 25 aircraft. Despite this reduction, the Marine Corps will continue to field two MV-22 squadrons a year, according to the document.

    And, as reported last week, the plan would delay the initial operating capability of the short takeoff-vertical-landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter by 14 months, bumping the acquisition of 35 JSF aircraft beyond 2013, the document states.

    Intelligence and command and control capabilities will see a 26 percent increase in the Marine Corps spending plan, according to the document.

    “Robust compliance with the [Strategic Planning Guidance] was considered in the funding profiles for multiple intelligence capabilities and [command and control] capabilities within POM ‘08, with emphasis on higher level of support at the lowest echelons,” states the document.

    As for air defense, “significant but acceptable levels of risk were taken” in the spending plan, including the recommended termination of the CLAWS and HELRASR programs.

    “Separation from these traditional methods of air defense serves as passageways for such future systems as Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar,” states the document