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US House Armed Services Committee

STATEMENT OF

LIEUTENANT GENERAL FREDERICK MCCORKLE
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
DEPUTY COMMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS
FOR AVIATION
CONCERNING
READINESS IMPLICATIONS CONCERNING 
THE NEED FOR THE V-22 AIRCRAFT FOR THE MILITARY SERVICES

MAY 21, 2001

Chairman Weldon, Congressman Ortiz, and distinguished members of this Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today here in Philadelphia to discuss readiness implications concerning the need for the V-22 aircraft for our military services. I would like to briefly talk about the Marine Corps' current medium lift capability. Vice Admiral Dyer is here with me today to discuss the costs and logistics involved with our current force. I would like to speak on the operational aspect of these helicopters.     

As you know, our Marine Corps' fleet of CH-46E and CH-53D helicopters began their service in the mid-1960s. At the end of their twenty-year initial projected service life, both began experiencing escalating maintenance costs; reduced reliability, availability, and maintainability; and significant performance degradation. These challenges are even more pronounced today. These helicopters are old! Their production lines are closed; parts are scarce; and their maintenance requirements exceed the bounds of reasonableness. They are truly "legacy systems" with numerous current and projected deficiencies: inadequate payload, range, and speed; and, no self-deployment or aerial refueling capability. Clearly, a capable replacement aircraft is required and long overdue.

Today, when our young Marines fly into harm's way, they do so on a fleet of troop-lift helicopters which were procured during the Vietnam War. The last production CH-46E."my" aircraft".was sold in 1970. Its average age is thirty-two years-older than most Marines in the Marine Corps. While the CH-46E enjoys a relatively high mission capable and full mission capable rate when compared to some of our other Marine Corps platforms, it has lost over 50 percent of its original lift capacity, and its extremely limited combat range no longer supports the extended battlespace in which our forces find themselves engaged. The CH-46E has a crew of three. With 2 hours of fuel and no guns, the CH-46E is capable of a payload of 12 combat troops or 4000 pounds (external), a cruise speed of 100 knots, and a combat radius of 127 nautical miles with no on station time. If the combat radius (with no on station time) is extended by only 41 nautical miles with full fuel, the trade-off reduces payload to only 7 combat troops or 2000 pounds (internal) and no guns. Real-world operations, however, necessitate that CH-46E crews carry guns for self-protection and provide on-station time for the Marine on the ground. This requirement reduces our CH-46E combat radius to a mere 75 nautical miles. 

The average age of our CH-53D helicopters is thirty years. It is also very limited in capabilities. With two hours of fuel, no guns, and no on station time, the CH-53D can carry 30 combat troops a combat radius of 141 nautical miles. To extend beyond a combat radius of 141 nautical miles, there has to be a trade-off between payload and fuel.    

These limited capabilities come at a huge price to the operational forces. The Direct Maintenance Man-Hours per Flight Hour for the CH-46E has increased from 19.6 in 1995 to 27.2 in 2000, a 38.8 percent increase. In other words, Marines must perform 27.2 hours of maintenance for every hour flown by a CH-46E. Similarly, the CH-53D is also a very maintenance intensive aircraft. Direct Maintenance Man-Hours per Flight Hour for the CH-53D has increased from 24.8 in 1995 to 27.9 in 2000, a 12.5 percent increase.

It was over twenty years ago that the Marine Corps began to consider replacement options for its aging CH-46E Sea Knight and CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters. Following a rigorous evaluation of future mission requirements, tiltrotor technology was selected as the best option to achieve future needs for its promise to revolutionize our expeditionary capabilities. Over time, it became apparent that the enormous potential of tiltrotor technology would allow the Marine Corps to greatly expand the scope of its combat operations. The Osprey would allow the Marine Corps, for the first time, to move away from traditional amphibious operations to more advanced, sea-based, expeditionary operations. This aircraft significantly improves our operational reach and tactical flexibility. Since the early 1980s, various government agencies and contractors have conducted seven major Cost and Operational Effectiveness Analyses (COEAs). These seven analyses confirmed the viability of tiltrotor technology and concluded that the Osprey is more cost-effective and operationally effective than any helicopter or any mix of conventional helicopter types. In fact, it is the only practical alternative that fully meets the tri-service requirements of the Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy.   

The Osprey is designed to replace our aging fleet of medium lift helicopters and remedy their deficiencies while expanding the mission envelope. The missions of the MV-22 include amphibious assault, raid operations, medium cargo lift, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, fleet logistic support, and special warfare. Possessing the attributes needed to fight and win on tomorrow's battlefields, the MV-22 will be the cornerstone of Marine Corps assault support with the speed, endurance, and survivability needed on the battlefield of the 21st century. Most importantly, it will save lives in future conflicts as it allows for the movement of troops and supplies farther and faster than ever before and with far less vulnerability to opposing forces. The superior combat radius of this aircraft allows Navy ships to maintain adequate stand-off distance from shore-based enemy anti-ship missiles, enhanced observation devices, shallowwater mines, and other developing littoral threats. This capability significantly complicates an enemy's defensive requirements and inhibits the enemy's opportunity to concentrate forces.    

The MV-22 incorporates a myriad of advanced technologies: composite materials; fly-by-wire flight controls; digital cockpit; and a sophisticated airfoil design. The MV-22 can carry 24 combat-equipped Marines or an 11,700 pound single point external load. The MV-22 carries three times as much, five times as far, twice as fast as the CH-46E it is replacing. enabling Marine expeditionary forces to rapidly respond to unpredictable, unstable situations. Furthermore, the MV-22 is the only vertical-lift platform capable of rapid self-deployment to ANY theater of operation. The Osprey dramatically increases our strategic agility with its capacity to self-deploy over 2,100 nautical miles with but one aerial refueling. This aircraft will be able to rapidly build-up combat power in an operational theater without burdening the DoD's limited strategic lift assets. Finally, tiltrotor technology also has great potential for civilian application and for foreign military sales.

A comparison of the capabilities of the MV-22 with those of the aircraft it will replace is illustrative. As I mentioned a moment ago, the CH-46E has a crew of three, a typical payload of 12 combat troops or 4000 pounds (external), a cruise speed of 100 knots, and a combat radius of 75 nautical miles. By comparison, the MV-22 has a crew of three, a payload of 24 combat troops or 11,700 pounds (single point external), a cruise speed of 250 knots, and a combat radius of over 240 nautical miles. Additionally, it is capable of aerial refueling, "high speed" externals (10,000 pounds at 227 knots) and, as figure (1) illustrates, it has an exceptionally large area of influence.   

Figure 1
SEE FIGURE 1 JPEG FILE ON DISK

When aerial refueling is taken into consideration, the increase in the MV-22's area of influence goes from 10 times to over 213 times that of the CH-46E-17 times the area of the state of Texas (see figure 2).   

Figure 2 

SEE SLIDE 2 JPEG FILE ON DISK

To put this comparison in context, allow me to provide two examples. A squadron of Ospreys can insert a 975-man battalion into a landing zone, 75 nautical miles away, in three hours-nine hours faster than a CH-46E squadron! The Osprey can carry 24 troops per wave, requires only 45 minutes per round trip, and is capable of flying three waves before requiring refueling. The CH-46E requires 1 1/2 hours per round trip to fly 12 troops the same distance and must refuel between every wave. The Osprey can also insert the same battalion into an objective 200 nautical miles away in nine hours, eight hours faster than the same number of CH-53Ds. This ability to rapidly build combat power not only provides a powerful tool to the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) or Joint Task Force (JTF) commander, it is also a strategic tool for the Warfighting CinC and the National Command Authorities.    

We recognize that advances in capabilities that technology brings often come at a significant price. Despite our best efforts, the MV-22 is no different from many other Department of Defense aviation programs of the past. In the last ten years, there have been four Class A mishaps[1] involving the MV-22. The crashes of two Ospreys and loss of twenty-three Marines in the past year have painfully illustrated the stark reality that military service and aircraft development, even in our modern era of improved technology, are still inherently dangerous pursuits. Marines and their families are our most valued treasures and we are deeply saddened by these accidents and the unimaginable grief they have caused.   

While we will never forget those that gave their lives for their country, we must remember that aircraft development is safer today than any other time in aviation history. In 1954, the Department of Navy had its highest number of aviation accidents: 776. In the 1990s, thanks in part to technological advances, the Department averaged about twenty aircraft accidents per year. The facts show that the MV-22's safety record compares favorably with the safety records of most tactical aircraft in the Department of Defense at a similar time in their program life. The principal aircraft the MV-22 will replace, the CH-46 Sea Knight, had 44 mishaps during its first five years of service four decades ago. In the face of such enormous difficulties, we adjusted our training methods, flight procedures, and maintenance. We also improved our airframes and avionics. As a result, the CH-46 has been in service for thirty-eight years well beyond its expected service life.   

Because of the most recent mishap on December 11, 2000, we have conducted internal reviews of the program. Additionally, the Commandant requested that the Secretary of Defense appoint an independent review panel to conduct a comprehensive examination of the program. We stated that the Marine Corps should pursue the MV-22 only if it proved to be technologically mature, operationally reliable, and affordable. Safety is key to each of these areas and transcends the entire program. As our Commandant has stated, "in the Corps, we do not love machines, we love the people who use machines." That is why when machines fail and cause loss of life, it is so very painful for our entire Marine family.

In requesting the Department of Defense review, we hoped to obtain the answers to three basic questions: Is tiltrotor technology sufficiently mature to meet near-term requirements? Is it robust enough to satisfy our rigorous operational standards, including the safety of our personnel? And, finally, what is the most efficient and economical way to bring the aircraft into our inventory? We are grateful to the Review Panel for its hard work, thoroughness, objectivity, and diligence, and we are pleased that the Review Panel's answers to the first two of these important questions, is "yes," with some important caveats. The answer to the third question is currently being developed with inputs from all the services, Naval Aviation Systems Command, and the senior acquisition leadership. [KMC1]  We can now objectively assess the program in its entirety and determine the best way ahead. 

The Marine Corps concurs with the Review Panel's conclusions and recommendations. First and foremost, the Review Panel concluded that tiltrotor technology is sound and mature. This finding mirrors our own and is consistent with the fact that tiltrotor technology was not found to be a factor in any of the four MV-22 mishaps. The Review Panel also concluded that the aircraft's reliability and maintainability must be improved through additional engineering, testing, and evaluation. We have also come to this conclusion. 

The Review Panel recommends development of a restructured program that uses a phased approach to achieve a return to flight and tactical introduction. Specific recommendations cover: minimal sustainable production rate in the near-term; adequate and stable funding; requirements validation; safety (hardware, software, and operations); reliability and maintainability; quality, training, and technical publications; and, communications across the program (among operators, contractors, engineers, etc.). Described later is our plan to implement these recommendations. Finally, the Review Panel concluded that the MV-22 is cost-effective and provides the Marine Corps capabilities that cannot be provided by any single helicopter or conventional aircraft. We agree.

Although I am pleased with the findings of the Review Panel and remain fully confident in the viability of the aircraft, I am deeply concerned by the as yet unresolved allegations of malfeasance and suggestions of program instability. The Marine Corps will seize upon this opportunity to ensure that we do not compromise our integrity, lower our standards, or jeopardize the safety of our Marines for any program. The resolution of the question of malfeasance, despite its grave importance, cannot occur until the Department of Defense Inspector General's investigation is completed. We look forward to a full examination of the investigation's results, which will aid our efforts to appropriately address these issues.   

A detailed plan is in place that will expeditiously implement the Review Panel's recommendations. The Deputy of the Program Executive Office for Tactical Aviation at the Naval Air Systems Command is leading a V-22 Acquisition Working Group to develop a restructured MV-22 and CV-22 program that complies with the Review Panel guidance, acquisition policies, and service needs. The goal of the V-22 Acquisition Working Group is to deliver to the military services a safe, reliable, and operationally effective V-22.

The options being developed will consider both the time and the funding required to efficiently achieve operational capability. This entails completion of both planned and additional developmental testing, correction of deficiencies and suitability issues, and verification through follow-on operational testing and evaluation. Restructuring of the program will be necessary to accommodate these actions. Participants in this process include members from the Program Management Activity; the Program Executive Officer for Air, Antisubmarine Warfare, Assault and Special Mission Programs of Naval Aviation; Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisition); U.S. Special Operations Command; the U.S. Air Force; Headquarters Marine Corps; the Commander, Naval Air Systems Command; and, representatives from Bell and Boeing. The group will produce program restructuring options for consideration by acquisition officials and will make recommendations on how to fund the revised program.

It will take some time to incorporate critical design improvements and we will proceed methodically. The current road map to full operations is a five-phased approach with specified entrance and exit criteria for each phase.

4 Phase 0: Commence technical assessment and complete thorough flight readiness review. We have already begun this phase.

4 Phase 1: Resume testing with Engineering and Manufacturing Development aircraft (both the MV and CV models) and augment with Low Rate Initial Production aircraft as necessary.

4 Phase 2: Resume Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron-204 (VMMT-204) training operations and production acceptance flights.

4 Phase 3: Stand up a MV-22 operational squadron at New River, North Carolina and a CV-22 training squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

4 Phase 4: Operational deployment/employment of the MV-22 and CV-22.

The immediate steps include: confirmation of industry willingness to support the restructured program; ensuring acquisition road map compatibility with technical assessment (development of entrance and exit criteria); finalizing a deficiency Matrix (including reliability and maintainability issues); developing timelines for correction; providing cost estimates for correction; developing cost, schedule, and production adjustments; and, finally, obtaining consensus among developmental and operational testers. We must also ensure that our training is deliberate and thorough and that quality assurance is maintained. 

A thoughtful consideration of current and future threats, as well as the multitude of other demands for limited resources, leads me to the conclusion that the capabilities of the MV-22, which will enhance our national security, continue to justify the investment. We must understand that our armed forces help to protect and promote our national security through military forward presence operations that enable our Nation to project power and influence, and by maintaining the ability to conduct operations across the spectrum of conflict. Our men and women in uniform will always be the foundation for success in these endeavors. However, they will need superior equipment and weapons systems to prevail on the complex battlefields of the future. This reality requires the Nation to leverage technology to not just do things better, but to do things differently. Maintaining our technological edge over future adversaries is fundamental to our success the MV-22 significantly contributes to this requirement.   

We are all acutely aware of the challenges associated with the MV-22. In the near future, we will embrace the recommendations of the Review Panel and make corrections where we must to improve both the aircraft and the management of the program. We will ensure that the MV-22 is reliable, operationally suitable, and affordable just as we did forty years ago with each of the aircraft the Osprey is intended to replace. With time, diligence, the close cooperation of our partners in industry, and with the support of the Congress, we can work through the present challenges confronting us and achieve the tremendous operational capabilities offered by this remarkable aircraft.   

As has always been the case, our actions will be guided by an unyielding commitment to do what is right for our Marines, their families, and our Nation.     

            Chairman Weldon, Congressman Ortiz this concludes my statement on behalf of Marine Aviation, and I look forward to your questions.


[1]   A Class A mishap is categorized by a loss of life or property damage in excess of one million dollars.


 [KMC1]The third question is not a yes or no question.   This should be reworked to words to the effect that 'its answers to the first two, of these important questions, is "yes," with some important caveats, and the answer to the third question is.'


House Armed Services Committee
2120 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515



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