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Commandant Says V-22s will Crash

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  • Commandant Says V-22s will Crash

    This is odd, a critical article from a former V-22 PAO who says he still loves the aircraft. From here

    Commandant Says "There is Going to Be a Crash"

    Earlier this week, my longtime amigo and dogged defense beat reporter Chris Castelli of Inside the Navy had breakfast (along with a number of other defense reporters) with General Conway, the Commandant of the Marine Corps. According to Chris' report, the commandant said the following:

    "You know, I'll tell you there is going to be a crash. That's what airplanes do over time. And we're going to have to accept that when it happens. And we'll hear some of the folks that are not fans of the program rise up, I suspect, when that occurs."

    That's an amazing statement for a service chief to make. I don't remember any similar quotes from any generals or admirals about the Super Hornet or the Raptor or any other platform. Obviously the Corps is still relatively gun-shy about this airplane.

    What Gen. Conway didn't explain was why an Osprey is going to crash. Well, DT is here to help.

    Now let me say up front, I'm a fan of the V-22 and believe in its potential. I want the airplane to kick butt once it gets to the tip of the spear this year. I also know a little bit about the program, having worked as PMA-275's spokesman at NAVAIR for three years (2002-2005) and having flown the sim and gone for flights in the airplane a number of times. But here is a prediction behind Gen. Conway's statement: In the first three years of fleet V-22 operations, the Marines will suffer six Class A flight mishaps with the Osprey. And here's how:

    - Although VMMT-204, the Osprey RAG, is up and running, the pilots training there are relatively senior compared to other RAGs. Eventually true "nuggets" will make their way to the fleet and they will do "nugget" things.

    - The test pilots (both active duty and civilian) did amazing work during the High Rate of Descent (HROD) phase of developmental test at NAS Patuxent River back in 2002 and 2003. They validated the V-22's vortex ring state (VRS) envelope. (DT readers will remember that VRS was what caused an Osprey to crash near Marana, Arizona back in 2000, killing 19 Marines.) Improvements have been made in the vertical speed displays and aural warning systems. But the fact remains that - while there are no "unknown unknowns" about VRS and that there is a buffer between the operational rate of descent limit of 800 feet per minute and where VRS occurs - the rate at which the V-22 develops a high rate of descent is unique to the V-22. Basically, the crew has to hawk the VSI gauge constantly during a descent. A moment's inattention can result in the vertical speed getting out of hand. (The test pilots actually had an inadvertant VRS entry during HROD testing because they got distracted for a second.) So imagine junior pilots during high op-tempo periods (deployed) at night, on goggles, and operating with not enough sleep (never happens if you follow NATOPS, right?) Yes, this is a training issue in that crews can be taught to watch the VSI readout on the display, but in spite of the comprehensive understanding Osprey crews have of the phenomenon (thanks to the Developmental Test Team at Pax River), somebody's going to be tired and distracted (and maybe under fire) and will enter VRS close to the ground. The outcome won't be good.

    - It's unclear at this point whether or not VMM-263 will self-deploy or embark on an amphib like most USMC assault support aircraft. If they conduct sustained flight ops from an LHA or LHD, again, we will see nuggets do nugget-like things. Somebody will fly into the water while on final approach; somebody will plant one against the deck edge. And I guarantee you these things will happen at night or in bad weather.

    - Ospreys will operate as multi-ships, so there's a high likelihood of a midair. Once again, when it occurs it'll be at night.

    - An Osprey will be lost due to controlled flight into terrain (CFIT).

    - An Osprey will have an engine failure (or fire) and be forced into an extended transit to get to somewhere safe to land. During the transit the interconnect drive shaft will fail. (The one true test of the interconnect drive shaft was very early in the program's history. The mechanism failed grossly.) Because the crew was transiting at medium altitude (8,000 feet or so) they will have the opportunity to keep the V-22 in the airplane mode while intercepting a dual-engine failure emergency glide profile. The Osprey will either ditch in the water or belly land in the desert. The "crumple zones" on the nose will work as advertised; the prop-rotors will "broomstraw" (disintegrate instead of turning into flying chunks upon impact). The crew will survive with minor injuries but the Osprey will sustain strike damage.

    - The Osprey has survivability features like self-sealing tanks and composite structures that will allow the airplane to take hits and keep on going. However, one of the other features of a composite fuselage is bullets don't bounce off, they pass through like a hot knife through butter. The airplane may survive an encounter with small arms fire, but Marines flying in back might not. Another prediction: Just like the Humvee, the Marines will "up-armor" V-22s in time. They didn't do it to date because that would've kept the airplane from attaining its Key Performance Parameters (payload, range, etc.) during OPEVAL.

    So that equals six lost aircraft (seven if you believe the midair will result in the loss of both Ospreys). The next time the topic comes up, Gen. Conway can offer a more complete answer.

    Again, you won't hear the Air Force Chief of Staff or Chief of Naval Operations making similar comments about their new platforms, and it's not because they're unrealistic. Obviously, the Marines are still a bit "concerned" about this "revolutionary" technology they're getting, like it or not.

    And beyond the mishap potential are concerns about the Osprey's sustainability. Remember, this is a program that hasn't been deployed yet but has obsolescence issues with subsystems. An item - a part of the prop-rotor gearbox, for instance - will fail at a rate not predicted by the engineers. And because they didn't predict it, the manufacture of it will not have been funded at an appropriate rate. Or worse, the company that manufactures the item will have gone out of business years ago (maybe even without the prime contractors' or government's knowledge). There will be none of these items in the supply chain and V-22s will sit idle, perhaps for months on end.

    Another maintenance issue: As I mention, the V-22 fuselage is made of composite materials. It's very light, by design. But over time it's going to crack both in places the engineers expect and in places they don't expect. These cracks are going to plague the squadrons for the entire operating history of the Osprey.

    And don't forget the hydraulic system: 5,000 psi and titanium tubing. Let's see how well that can be maintained in the field for an extended period.

    Another major indicator of USMC confidence for the V-22 will be where they choose to base it during the first deployment. Most likely they won't be based on an amphib, not because of world events but because the Osprey doesn't really fit on any of the amphibs very well (and it also has this potential problem where it warps the flight deck with its exhaust). The "brown water" Navy isn't in a big hurry to have them come aboard.

    And as far as where they're based once in theater, let's keep it very simple: If the Marines believe this is the kick ass airplane that has kept it alive and funded for all the years in spite of the setbacks and the loss of life, then they'll base VMM-263 at Bagram or Al Asad. That's where the action is. That's where the enemy is. Otherwise, if they don't fully believe, they'll stick the "Thunderchickens" somewhere around the Horn of Africa and couch the move in terms like "emerging threat."

    As I mentioned at the beginning, I'm a supporter of the program. I know many of the crews who will be leading the squadrons on the first deployments. I worked closely with VMX-22 during OPEVAL II. I would put pilots like "Mongo" Seymour up against the best Tomcat drivers I ever rode behind. In fact, I've never met a pilot, crew chief, or maintainer in the Osprey community who didn't blow me away with his or her professionalism and dedication to the mission. I want to be wrong with my prediction. But remember, I didn't bring the subject up; the Commandant of the Marine Corps did.

    -- Ward

    March 16, 2007 07:10 AM | Tactical Development

  • #2

    From the same blog, this is an angry major who sounds like he knows Ward Carroll from the program office. Carroll was the public affairs officer at the v22 program a while ago. This guy said it better than I could, and he seems to know a lot more about V22 and Mr Carroll than I do.


    I’m curious to know what question the Commandant was answering when this quote was captured. Or are we led to believe that he called you all to breakfast just to strike up a conversation and tell V22s were going to crash?
    Along those lines, why haven’t any other service chiefs invited you to breakfast and announced that there won’t be any crashes of any JSF or H60s or any other aircraft in the other services?
    Besides, your explanations about why Opsrey’s will crash aren’t well thought out. You do know a little about the program, but your information is old, and you obviously don’t know anything about the aircraft. ANY aircraft is going to suffer losses like you described. Anyone with actual operational experience knows that. As for your nugget comment, we’ve been training Lt’s right of flight school for over a year. There are more than a couple out there in the fleet “doing nugget things” as we blog.
    Your description about HROD has a lot of conjecture and a smattering of truth in it. The V22 VRS envelope is significantly smaller than any other rotorcraft out there. To make sure everybody understands that, it means it is harder to get a V22 into VRS than a regular helicopter. Here’s what you don’t talk about in your HROD paragraph: VRS is a function of both forward airspeed and rate of descent. When the guys got the inadvertent entry you describe, they were putt-putting along setting up for the data point – they were slow to begin with, so the idea that it will “surprise” some nugget is a little far-fetched. No nugget goes hunting for datapoints on test plan designed to answer congress and not the operational user. Goodness gracious, we don’t hawk the VSI, neither do our students, and we don’t get the SINK RATE warning. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed your reply where you said to take the aircraft to a 1000 ft hover and then smoothly pull the TCL to idle! Cripes! How about you fly your F14 to 1.1 Vstall in a turn then slowly pull the stick all the way back – that would probably be just as stupid. Oh, that’s right, you didn’t have a stick in the back of an F14. But I digress, you said it would lose 500 ft in the time it takes to move the nacelles? Maybe if you’re currently in a fully developed VRS state and suffering from some kind of time-space continuum warp in the fabric of reality.
    I would like to counter your predictions with one of my own: There won’t be a VRS mishap in V22s for many, many years, if ever. We all know what happened in Marana (some of us better than any investigator, if you take my meaning) and we all had a lot of beer and agreed not to do that again.
    I’m curious, do you know how many times and how far V22 have flown single engine? Forget about the run-stand down in Ft Worth, I’m talking about actually flying the aircraft with only one engine? Do you know? I’ll bet credits to navy beans you don’t.
    And bullets don’t bounce off of composite fuselage? Really? What assault support platform do we have that bullets do bounce off of? I’m also curious to know how the ballistics of composites fair against sheet aluminum on all the current airframes. Just assuming the ground fire is coming from the ground, will not the projectile path travel through the sponson to get into the cabin? Even with the forward velocity of the aircraft taken into account? Or are the shooters just going to aim for headshots on all the Marines in back as the V22 steaks by at 220 kts?
    Now this is a little off topic, but I have to bring it up. “yeah, well it has to slow down to land”. You’re absolutely right. And let me assure these readers that no hovering machine in the world can slow down to land or accelerate out of the zone like the V22. Not even a single engine huey with the twist grip rolled off…Nothing carrying more than 5 pax anyway. Maybe a little bird could, but I don’t see the Marines turning in 1 V22 and checking out 6 MD500s…
    Yes, the supply side of V22 is behind. But remember from when you worked in the program office, material support date is October of 2008…that’s what you guys programmed, I guess they just didn’t tell the PAO…Wonder why? Might have something to do with the war we’re waging at the moment.
    The other “another maintenance issue” you described is going to happen. It’s also going to happen to every aircraft we build until we become omniscient with structures. Yes, the JSF and the EH101 will have structure issues because we can’t predict everything…should we call the service chiefs and invite them to breakfast? Maybe they’ll say something else!? Rest assured we’ll maintain the hydraulics with titanium tubing and 5000 psi. I’ve got some really good airframers who would like to address your challenge if you get the chance to come down to New River.
    What the hell do you mean Osprey doesn’t fit on an amphib? Umm…then I must have false memories. No… I’m certain… I took a picture of it. Not just once, not just one ship, over 5 of them. I got lots of pictures. Just the same, my pictures - they’re really cool Polaroids just like Goose took of the Mig in the movie.. You know, Goose, the non-flying officer’s hero in Top Gun? Anyway, make sure you call those NAVSEA engineers and tell them you vote no confidence in their ability to the deck heating problem. I wonder what we’ve been doing when we go out to train on the ship now, since we don’t “fit” on an amphib like you said. Last question on this subject, how many days you have at sea on an amphib?
    Wow, this just drags on and on, doesn’t it?
    It sounds like you know all about allocation of forces, too. You know, how the MEF provides forces to the COCOMs…Are you sure you weren’t the PAO for HQMC? Bah, now I’m getting too sarcastic…You’re statements of where we put the aircraft don’t have anything to do with our belief it’s a kick ass airplane. For example, “Lets keep it simple”? Are you nuts? How about, lets think about what forces the Marine Corps needs to provide, and what METLs those forces have to be capable of in a joint theatre before we decide where to send our units. Consider that and then tell us how we should deploy the Marines and their equipment to the warfighting COs. Be sure to come back and tell us we don’t believe the Osprey will make it just because we don’t send it to MNW in Iraq.
    BTW, Mongo is better than any Turkey driver you know, and didn’t expect to see his name put out there like it was some kind of endorsement for your errant points here. Neither did Jim. And Schnieder is a GySgt now, so you owe him 50 pushups for trying to demote him in your replies.
    Last of all, does your current employer know you’re just a mouthpiece as PAO? Does he or she have your resume and know as soon as you get a different job you’re going to change your opinion, champion a different cause, then offer pitiful attempts to make yourself feel better by saying you “respect” all the V22 pilots and maintainers out there by quoting names that resolutely disagree with you? Go back to writing fictional books and being a mouthpiece for someone else. You don’t speak for V22, or those of us who see the long term investment objective to ensure we can out-maneuver any other fighting force in the world. The world is changing, 4th generation warfare is here, and you can decide how much you want to spend to ensure that America wins every time…and not just win while protecting themselves, but win while ensuring minimum loss of life of non-combatants by winning quickly and decisively…or you can hang our with Chris and criticize others with conjecture and a background that only impresses the uninformed, all the while referencing POM dollars like they are the lives of those who’s bled out because we couldn’t get to them in time.
    In the words of naval aviation, “take it around, you’re signal is divert”.
    And finally (whew!) I don’t believe the Commandant brought up, I believe you and your “amigo” did.

    Posted by: Buddy at March 21, 2007 07:19 PM


    • #3
      I raised such question a long time ago.
      Those that like to monitor this message system (re-v-22) blew me off. My thoughts were too negative.
      My personal claim to fame was te H-53 a/d. well after the the period of "blade throwing" etc. I discovered, only by going to WestPac, was that the H2P's were not being taught what they should have known about preflight, etc.

      The story goes on and on, but I'm a goat farmer now, and all you "huff and puff" fellows can just plan on keeping your MC "A" uniforms in the closet for the funerals.

      'nuff said.


      • #4
        Wow! Saw an in country V-22 in the background when the war monger Senator what's his name was doin an interview...So we know there is at least one there. (rototilt).

        Hooper (1969-1981)


        • #5
          Commandant Says V-22s will Crash

          The Commandant was only speaking the truth. Sooner or later it is going to happen. As he said aircraft crash -- that is what they do! Can anyone name me a flying aircraft that has never crashed? Starting with the Wright Brothers, who had the first crash, up to today - what goes up must come down. How it comes down is the question.
          Mechanical failure, weather, pilot error, or enemy fire are all a part of the dangers of flying and what the Marines are doing. It is what we did!

          It is easy to Monday Morning Quarterback -- but let the nay sayers try to do the job that the crews are trained to do --support the troops.


          • #6
            Commandant's words....

            Right on, Sam!

            Words do not have some magical ability to influence fate......however true.....but, sometimes prayers do....let's all pray that our Marines all get out OK if and when a V-22 crashes.....the hardware is expendible! Marines are priceless.




            • #7
              For What it is worth...

              ...the Osprey is the "gotta have" for the VIP's in Iraq.

              Everyone with four stars or more demands one for travel.

              I have this from a friend to arranges these things and rides in 'em too!

              Raymond J. Norton
              1513 Bordeaux Place
              Norfolk, VA 23509-1313

              (757) 623-1644


              • #8
                Will a V22 crash you damn right one will someday, but over every other aircraft on the line we have had fewer mishaps than the majority.

                Shit happens aircraft crash I accept that fact whenever I lift off the deck if you don’t then you doesn’t fly. :cheers:


                • #9
                  Everything a survivor pilot learned in a combat environment and hostile LZ was minimal flight thru hover, to landing and unload...then off and gone. Right now, the offsprey requires 45+ seconds to transition to the same scenario, just to land...and you're right, it isn't bullet proof. Go figure!

                  It's gonna be a VIP transport for a long time...and I'm not a general, but some of my peers are, and they would rather avoid the discussion than speculate.

                  nuff said.


                  PS Whoever edits this comment and considers it negative...not to worry, cause Google has spyware in the PAS system, and everything I say, for some reason, shows up on google quite soon after...Wally knows this, but cannot seem to solve the problem.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ray Norton View Post
                    ...the Osprey is the "gotta have" for the VIP's in Iraq.

                    Everyone with four stars or more demands one for travel.

                    I have this from a friend to arranges these things and rides in 'em too!

                    Funny thing It is being used for alot of VIP flights but I think that is a good thing because that means they are not afraid to get on it.

                    Oh and it could be the speed as well and the legs we have and that we do not need to stop for fuel every 2 hours.

                    But I need to fix something that has gone on way to long.

                    We do not go into "hot LZs" like you guys did in Vietnam it just doenst happen anymore.

                    If we take fire we are leaving cut and dry thats the way we do it

                    We VMM-162 still have a few VIP flights but not like VMM-263 was flying, Im already involved in some of the real stuff which is what I love!

                    I sure do miss my 50 cal and I hope I get it back SOON


                    • #11
                      Hot Med's & resupplies

                      Originally posted by johnnyp View Post
                      Funny thing It is being used for alot of VIP flights but I think that is a good thing because that means they are not afraid to get on it.

                      Oh and it could be the speed as well and the legs we have and that we do not need to stop for fuel every 2 hours.

                      But I need to fix something that has gone on way to long.

                      We do not go into "hot LZs" like you guys did in Vietnam it just doenst happen anymore.

                      If we take fire we are leaving cut and dry thats the way we do it

                      We VMM-162 still have a few VIP flights but not like VMM-263 was flying, Im already involved in some of the real stuff which is what I love!

                      I sure do miss my 50 cal and I hope I get it back SOON
                      Who takes care of the grunts when they need hot Medevcs and resupplies???? the HML Huey's or HMM 46's??


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BartClu View Post
                        Who takes care of the grunts when they need hot Medevcs and resupplies???? the HML Huey's or HMM 46's??

                        What im telling you is it is a rare accasion that we will go into what would be concidered a hot LZ it just doesnt happen like it used to.

                        If We do a raid and get a call for a urgent or imediate medevac well go in but it is not run of the mill everyday action out here.

                        If the anyone needs a medevac it usually goes to whoever is the peged as the medevac squadren, and right now we the V-22s are not the medevac platform the H-60s have this mission now its dust off.

                        Not a single marine unit in Iraq is primary medevac we all have it as a secondary as we can be tasked if we are in the area. The HLMAs go out with them to provide the gun support that is it.

                        When I was here in 03 anyone could get tasked with medivac in 04-05 HMM-268 was the main medevac at al taqqadum TQ we would take it from them every once in a while as the primary, every day though we had a 30 minute casevac stand by on our line they had a 10 minute stand by, when we would get tapped for a casevac the primary aircraft and a cobra would launch, did we end up in some hot LZs damn skippy did 268 damn right they did I have pictures to prove it, its just not the same kind of war.

                        We mainly end up with these little bastards trying to wait on the route we use and take shots at us with RPGs or Sams

                        We are always ready with litters if we need to but we are not a primary we have no docs flying with us.

                        re-supply Grunts you ask? I resupply the main bases all the time we have LZs all over this country but its not like dropping boxes of rounds and MREs off to the guys while they are fighting, The last time I even came close to that was in fallujah and that was still on the out skirts of the city not flying right over the middle of it and dropping gear off the plane just didnt happen.

                        I can not speak for the way the Grunts do thier business here now I havent played on that side of the fence for many years so I do not know the rotations.

                        The only combat resupply I have done in the last few years was when we helped the british take over a area south of baghdad and fallujah durring phantom fury we were supplying them almost daily for a while otherwise it is moving items between bases and fobs.