This is an update on the V-22 program since our article last May: Keeping the V-22 Alive Since then, the long-time V-22 public affairs man, Dick Spivey, retired after a career with the V-22 program. This program has been "in development" for so long that some people literally made it a career. The promised aggressive flight testing became just 38 hours of safe flying by a single V-22 over the past three months. The V-22 project manager, Colonel Shultz, sent out a highly misleading letter to rebut criticism in the press. G2mil was mentioned as: "a website, not a magazine." Harry Dunn was so outraged by these new lies that he dissected this letter, which is linked below.
For example, Shultz compares the mishap rate of the V-22 with helicopters during their first five years of operation. He doesn't compare flight hours since the V-22 has been grounded most of the time, or that only six production V-22s have flown. He compares them with the total mishaps of much greater numbers new helicopters which flew hundreds of hours each, and counts those shot down in Vietnam as "mishaps". Last May, G2mil learned from someone involved in the test program that V-22 lift specs are only goals, and the heaviest vertical lift demonstrated by a V-22 was 11,000 lbs, not the 15,000 lbs claimed. Compare that to the 28,000 lbs of vertical lift for the upgraded CH-53X and even 9000 lbs for the small MH-60S.
Last year, I noted the V-22 had a smaller internal cabin than the CH-46. Using the specs from the NAVAIR website, I wrote: "The V-22s interior cabin dimensions are (H-5.5ft W-5.7ft L-20.8ft ) which is smaller than the CH-46E (H-6ft W-6ft L-24.2 ft). With a height of only 5.5ft, the V-22s will have many hunched-back crew chiefs and a lot of passenger head banging." It appears this criticism was noted because NAVAIR revamped its website two months ago and the V-22 cabin dimensions miraculously expanded to match the CH-46! To find the true specs, Harry Dunn asked a good man at NAVAIR to grab a tape measure and reveal the true (stressed, e.g. weight bearing) cabin space, which is listed here:
The V-22 has 40% less cabin space than the CH-46!
Crucial Test - an article by Bob Cox which details the V-22s fatal flaw
Eased standards "fix" Osprey - an article by Joseph Neff which reveals numerous shortcomings
Dissecting Colonel Shultz's Excuses (pdf) - Harry Dunn replies
MH-60S Enters Full Production - the Marines can buy these today
Helicopter Wings and Rings - superior to tiltrotors
Finally, even the first V-22 squadron commander reports the is V-22 unsafe:
Marine Times September 9, 2002
Report: Osprey crash records not falsified
Officials from the Defense Department Inspector General’s office looked into allegations detailed in a letter sent to Marine Commandant Gen. James Jones in December 2001 by Lt. Col. Odin “Fred” Leberman, former commander of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204, a Marine official confirmed.
Leberman alleged “critical information was omitted” from an investigation report on the April 8, 2000, crash, which occurred during operational testing with infantry Marines in Marana, Ariz., according to a copy of the Aug. 19 DoD investigation report. He also wrote that information regarding the actual cause of death of the 19 Marines was removed and that crucial test results were omitted from the overall operational evaluation report sent to Marine officials regarding the aircraft’s combat viability, the report states.
His letter did not call into question the cause of the crash, which investigators attributed to “human factors.” The former squadron commander sent the letter about three months after he received a punitive letter of reprimand for his role in the squadron’s falsification of Osprey maintenance records.
After conducting interviews with Leberman and those he said brought the omissions to his attention, “the Defense Criminal Investigative Service found no evidence to support these allegations,” the IG report states.
Leberman also questioned the crash-worthiness of the Osprey’s fuel cells. The IG office is conducting a separate investigation into that matter.
The Osprey was grounded for nearly 18 months after the second of two crashes in 2000 that killed a total of 23 Marines. The second crash, which occurred Dec. 11, 2000, came just days before the Corps was set to begin full production of the transport aircraft. The Corps plans to buy more than 300 Ospreys to replace its Vietnam-era CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters.
As a result of the crashes and subsequent investigations, program officials were forced to revamp aspects of the aircraft’s design and now are conducting further flight testing. Aviators with VMMT-204 at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., are expected to resume flight operations next spring, program officials say.
The IG’s findings weren’t a surprise, Marine officials said.
“The Corps realized immediately that the only way to get to the bottom of this was to have an impartial third party evaluate the merits of the allegations,” said Marine spokesman Maj. Matt McLaughlin. “We now have seen the investigation come back finding the allegations had no merit.”
In his letter, Leberman claimed the squadron flight surgeon for VMMT-204 told him that the 19 Marines killed in the Arizona crash were burned to death when fuel cells ruptured. He also said the information had been withheld in the Aviation Mishap Board report.
The unidentified flight surgeon denied he told Leberman records had been omitted, saying the AMB report was “accurate and complete,” the IG report states.
Leberman went on to question the safety of fuel cells in the Osprey.
“At no time has a fuel cell passed the drop test,” he wrote. The fuel cells “will burst and flood the cabin with fuel, dramatically increasing the likelihood of a fire and/or explosion.”
After interviewing dozens of officials, Pentagon investigators found no indication that information concerning the fuel cells had been left out of the accident report.
“No one improperly influenced or directed the AMB members to remove or change information in the AMB report regarding fuel cells,” the IG report stated.
The assistant inspector general for auditing is conducting a separate review of the issues related to crash-worthiness of fuel cells.
The IG report also debunked allegations that crucial information was withheld from the operational evaluation report forwarded to Marine aviation officials Oct. 10, 2000. The report was a crucial part of the decision to go ahead with full production of the aircraft.
Leberman’s letter stated that a Marine lieutenant colonel from the operational test team told him the information had been withheld, according to the IG report. Pentagon investigators interviewed the unnamed officer, who told them he “did not recall such a discussion” and said “nothing critical was missing from the report.”
The Marine officer did, however, issue “strongly worded” sections on desert landings and the Osprey’s use in direct action missions that were removed from the report.
Again, after interviewing 20 individuals connected to the operational evaluation report, investigators found “that no critical, key or substantive information was improperly deleted from the report, falsified or hidden within the report."
Carlton Meyer editorG2mil@Gmail.com
MH-60S is better than the V-22
You and I must be on the same wavelengths. I was thinking the same thing about the V-22 - it can fly high but can it LAND high? I think not.... It simply runs out of power - and the situation is made worse by the fact that the tiltrotor blade is not as efficient as a rotor: is a compromise between a rotor and a propeller. A good example to compare it to is the Chinook: both have roughly the same weight and power but the blade area of a Chinook is much greater which means it can handle landings at a high altitude much better. This high blade loading is also a problem in maneuvering - it may get out of a zone in a hurry due to sheer power but I'm betting its an airliner coming in to a zone. As you know, there is a big debate over vortex ring state in a side by side rotor configuration.
Also, I will have to see a photo of 24 fully loaded Marines in the back of the Osprey before I believe they will all fit. I carried 18 in a Phrog [CH-46] once and we were packed. Of course, since the Osprey carries no weapons, there might be more room. The MH-60 would be a perfect fit: you could replace the 46 and the Huey with it. Another problem with the Osprey is you can't do split-ARG with it. If you had 60's, you could put 4 to 6 on the LPD and use them as either transports or gunships - whichever is needed. The Osprey is basically a subsidy to Bell Helicopter since they haven't built anything worthwhile since the Cobra.
Obviously, the VTDP holds great promise. IF it works (I believe main rotor flapping is the biggest hurdle), then the Cobras, 53's, and 60's could all be converted at the same time and you would have a all helicopter fleet with comparable range. As of now, there is nothing that can reasonably escort the V-22.
If you are looking for waste and abuse, look no further than why Marine Reserves are flying brand new Gulfstreams (they got rid of C-12's.) The answer is that a lot of these LtCols are trying to build hours to go to the airlines (not that its going to help them now.) The Gulfstreams are not combat related, nor are they support. It is using up money and personnel that could be better used to support actual combat units. Thought you might have fun with that.
Name WithheldThe V-22 is Great
I work for V-22 as civilian engineer for about 10 years. I read your V-22 update. Nothing like irresponsible biased reporting...anything for a buck. The V-22 cabin height is not 5' 5"...duh....it's way over six feet-I'm 5' 9" and there's at least 2 ft. above my head when I work in the cabin. Funny, you must talk to disgruntled ex pilots or former employees. All the pilots I talk to and work with (and they are many) tell me the osprey is the easiest handling and smoothest bird they have ever been in. Pilot tell me they'd rather be in a V-22 than in a disintegrating CH-46. Don't know who you are lobbying for, but our competitors have been taking potshots at us for over 15 yrs. now...and we're still here. Everyone wants a piece of our pie. I'll have the last laugh at you idiots when we start fielding squadrons next year.
Justin M Nuyda
Ed: Be sure to inform your co-workers that the V-22s interior height is 7'9" tall, they list just 6 feet. Last year they listed 5.5 feet. This official Navy report from 1999 confirms what we say (200 inches long (16.66 feet), 66 inches high (5.5 feet, and 68 inches wide (5.66 feet). The problem with inventing new lies is not everyone knows to erase the evidence.
Are you proud that your gang has made a living by "developing" the V-22 for 15 years with funds taxpayers thought were going to Marine Corps aviation? And you already fielded a V-22 squadron in 1999. It crashed two of the first eight V-22s within a year, and now that squadron commander says the V-22 is unsafe. The next time you send a V-22s to operational evaluation, be sure to include the hoist and gun. Yes, I know that will push your empty weight far over your contract guarantee and drag vertical lift below 8000 lbs, but its the honest thing to do.
Colonel Shultz's Lies
I read your excellent and highly informative expose' of Col Schultz's
lies. The S-67 Blackhawk that crashed at the Farnborough air show was an
ATTACK HELICOPTER completely different from the UTAAS transport helicopter which
became the UH-60 Blackhawk using the same name.