Medium Lift Replacement: What Is The Answer? CSC 1993 SUBJECT AREA - Aviation United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College Marine Corps University Marine Corps Combat Development Command Quantico, Virginia 22134-5068 STUDENT RESEARCH AND WRITING AY: 1992-93 Title: Medium Lift Replacement: What is the answer? Submitted to Colonel Robert J. Berens, USA(ret.) In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for Written Communication by Major Joseph C. Shusko United States Marine Corps March 29, 1993 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Title: Medium Lift Replacement: What is the answer? Author: Major Joseph C. Shusko Thesis: A thorough understanding of the unanswered questions and issues of the MV-22 Osprey highlights the need to reevaluate its characteristics, and if found unsuitable an alternative should be selected as the medium lift replacement to meet the threats of the 21st Century. Background: The Marine Corps is planning to field a fleet of 552 MV-22 Osprey aircraft to replace the CH-46E. The MV-22 has been riddled with problems, cancellations and accidents which make it too costly to pursue. There are alternative airframes which meet all requirements for medium lift at an affordable cost. The CH-46X or the BV-360 helicopter offer the Marine Corps advanced capabilities unavailable with the CH-46E. During a time when budgets are tight, the Corps needs to put the MV-22 back on the shelf and get back in the business of war fighting with assets affordable to the Corps. Recommendations: The Marine Corps should purchase the CH-46X or the BV-360 to meet the medium lift requirements of the present and the future. Both aircraft offer the capabilities needed to replace the ageing CH-46E at an affordable cost. MEDIUM LIFT REPLACEMENT: WHAT IS THE ANSWER? OUTLINE Thesis: A thorough understanding of the unanswered questions and issues of the MV-22 Osprey highlights the need to reevaluate its characteristics, and if found unsuitable an alternative should be selected as the medium lift replacement to meet the threats of the 21st Century. I. Historical review of the problem A. Ageing CH-46 B. Where the CH-46 is today II. The search for the replacement A. Choices B. The Battles C. The Choice: MV-22 III. The MV-22 A. Background B. Problems/unanswered questions C. Where the MV-22 is today IV. The Solutions A. CH-46X B. BV-360 MEDIUM LIFT REPLACEMENT: WHAT IS THE ANSWER? by Major Joseph C. Shusko USMC The United States Marine Corps (USMC) has long recognized the importance of having aircraft with a vertical or short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) capability. The Department of Defense began sponsoring research and development in this field with the Bell designed XV-3 in the mid 1950's, an aircraft that proved the feasibility of the tiltrotor concept. The XV-15 program, jointly sponsored by the Army, Navy and NASA, conclusively confirmed the validity of the tiltrotor concept in the 1970's. The XV-15 evolved into the full scale MV-22, or commonly known as the "Osprey." It culminated 30-plus years of tiltrotor research and development by the United States Government and American Industry. But is the Osprey the answer to the shortfall Marine Aviation is experiencing with the ageing CH-46E helicopter? A thorough understanding of the unanswered questions and issues of the MV-22 Osprey highlights the need to reevaluate its characteristics, and if found unsuitable an alternative should be selected as the medium lift replacement to meet the threats of the 21st Century. The United States Marine Corps has been flying the CH-46 Sea knight helicopter, commonly known as the "Phrog," since 1962. The Phrog is a descendant of Boeing's first turbine-powered helicopter--the Boeing 107--which first appeared in 1958, (7:14) and which is still flying various missions throughout the world. In 1961, the USMC picked the CH-46 as its new medium-lift troop transport, replacing the ageing UK-34. Over 600 Phrogs were delivered to the USMC between 1962 and 1971. Today, fewer than 250 airframes are still flying in the Corps. To keep the remaining CH-46 aircraft flying, the aircraft have gone through four major airframe and component upgrades to include the CH-46D/F/E, and most recently, in 1989, with the Safety, Reliability and Maintainability (SR&M) program. Twenty- six modifications went into each SR&M airframe with the goal of extending the life of the Phrogs into the 1990's. The current upgrade to the Phrog is half way through completion. These upgrades, an emergency aircraft flotation system, an improved navigation system, an expanded stubwing fuel system, and a night-vision goggle kit will once again help the Phrog get to the 21st Century. In 1994, the CH-46 will receive engine condition control system kits, and in 1995, dynamic components will be replaced in all CH-46 aircraft. The kits are designed to improve operating costs and operational capabilities while waiting for its planned replacement, the MV-22 Osprey. Until then, the CH-46E SR&M aircraft still remains the ultimate workhorse for the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps. The Phrog has been the primary assault vehicle of the Marines for over 30 years now. During those years Phrogs have seen combat in almost every conflict since Vietnam. During Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Phrogs led the way in providing essential airborne mobility of troops and logistics for the Marine Expeditionary Force and for the Amphibious Forces Afloat. One hundred and twenty airframes flew 1601 sorties for a total of 7345 hours at a 90 percent mission capable/76 percent full mission capable rate.(8:9) The only other aircraft community with comparable statistics was the F/A-18C. The closest helicopter to match the successful accomplishments of the Phrog was the AH-1 Cobra. It flew 78 airframes for a total of 3014 hours, achieving a 90 percent mission capable/72 percent full mission capable rate. The Commander on the battlefield has always depended on the medium lift capabilities of the Phrog. Those capabilities helped shape the ground combat element's strengths against the opponent's weaknesses. During the war the "Battle Phrog" performed the following missions: 1. Search and Rescue 2. Troop transport 3. Cargo transport 4. Medical evacuation 5. Vertical replenishment 6. Reconnaissance inserts and extractions 7. Reconnaissance 8. Prisoner of War transfer Nowhere else has the Phrog performed as well, as it did in the Desert war. As Desert Shield/Desert Storm demonstrated, the Phrog is still the best helicopter around. The USMC has recently received the last CH-46E SR&M aircraft from the rework facility in Cherry Point, North Carolina. However, reworked airframes are getting old and carry with them a number of shortcomings that require attention: 1. In an amphibious assault, the Phrog is power limited and when fully loaded with packs and or troops it can only fly at 110 to 120 knots; 2. The Phrog only has a 1.8 hour endurance span and a combat radius of 50 to 70 miles; 3. The Phrog is limited to approximately 4500-pound external loads; 4. The Phrog fleet is rapidly approaching its service life of 30 years or 10,000 flight hours (The high time aircraft, built 30 years ago, is still flying logging operations 10 hours a day for Columbia Helicopters in Oregon, and now has accumulated over 38,000 hours.) (15:4) 5. The Phrog is limited to carrying a Marine Squad of 16 to 18 troops; 6. Finally, the Phrog incorporates a lot of old technology that is getting harder to obtain, and at a very high cost. In spite of its shortcomings, the Phrog brings a lot of credibility to the table where alternatives cannot. The aircraft the USMC chose to replace the Phrog was the MV-22 Osprey. The USMC looked at several options: 1. The Anglo-Italian EH-101; 2. The CH-60 Black Hawk and the CH-53E as a package; 3. The CH-46X; 4 The S-92; 5. The CH-47F; 6. The BV-360. All the above offered advantages and disadvantages; however, none offered as many advantages as the Osprey. But is the Osprey the right alternative? What then is the MV-22 Osprey? An Osprey is a tiltrotor aircraft that can take off, hover, and land like a helicopter. What makes this aircraft different from helicopters is its capability to fly like an airplane by tilting its wingtip rotor nacelles forward. But is this technology that everyone raves about really so new? Can this aircraft perform at a level to really give the Marine Corps an advanced capability? According to Maj. T. Hanifen, coordinator of the medium helicopter program in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Aviation at Marine Corps Headquarters; the operational requirement for a medium- lift aircraft was originally approved in 1969 and established the need for an aircraft that could be used on the Corps' amphibious and land assault missions. USMC combat requirements specify an aircraft replacement capable of: 1. carrying 24 fully-equipped Marines; 2. a top speed of 180 knots is desired; 3. an uncalculated right radius at 200 nautical miles; and 4. the ability to carry a 10,000-pound external payload. (25:37) As mentioned before, tiltrotor technology has been around since the 1950's with such prototypes as the XV-3 and the VZ-2 tiltwing. (9:11) There is nothing so modern about the Osprey and its unique capabilities, just as there is nothing so unique about the tandem rotor concept of the CH-46 designed during the same period. So why then are the Osprey proponents raving about the "advanced technology" this aircraft brings to the table? Arguably, it took the helicopter industry 40 years to perfect the tiltrotor concept. Be that as it may, the technology of the Osprey is now available, but with many unproven capabilities which may not meet the requirements expected of it. First let's look at the many capabilities it does have. According to an article published in the Spring '89 Amphibious Warfare Review: The Osprey can cruise at 275 knots and achieve 300 knots in a dash. It has a 400 nautical mile combat radius and can fly for 4 hours with a load. The Osprey can self deploy up to 2,100 nautical miles and is roughly twice as fast as a helicopter with or without an external load. (12:27) Boeing has recently published a fact sheet updating some of the milestones the Osprey has achieved. Up until July 20, 1992, four Osprey prototypes have accumulated 763.8 hours of flight time in 645 flights. During those flights the Osprey has flown at 294 knots in straight and level cruise, 349 knots in a shallow dive, at night, accomplished simulated instrument flight, simulated aerial refueling, engaging in formation flights and initial shipboard compatibility tests, and, been tested in extreme- climates. (6:1) All of the above statistics are impressive and would improve the assault support characteristics of the Marine Corps, but can the Osprey really accomplish everything the Corps is asking of it? Can it really survive on today's battlefield better than a helicopter? Bottom line, can the Marine Corps afford to buy an aircraft that may cost up to $50 million dollars apiece? When new aircraft are introduced, they usually come with operational capabilities. With transport helicopters, one of the most important capabilities is to externally lift specific loads. The Osprey is designed to externally lift 15,000 pounds. Can the Osprey lift its max external weight as advertised? To date, the aircraft has externally lifted 4,000 pounds. (21:60) The USMC needs this aircraft because we have no medium lift capable aircraft that can externally lift the High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) weighing between 5,200 and 7,200 pounds, depending on its variance. If the Osprey cannot lift a HMMWV and other USMC equipment, why buy it? It's been the experience in the past when an aircraft rolls out of the factory, the performance characteristics--cruise airspeeds, maximum airspeeds, maximum external lift, etc.--do not always measure up to their design capabilities. A good example is with the CH-46. It was designed to carry 24 combat-equipped Marines or 15 litters or 6,000-pound external payloads. The CH- 46 on its best day could not lift its designed external weight limit. The Osprey is designed to carry 24 combat troops, or 12 litters, or 15,000 pounds of externals. Will it produce these numbers? Has the Osprey actually operated in a sandy environment comparable to the deserts of Saudi Arabia? The CH-53E has a difficult time with the "brown-out" associated with landing in sand. The Osprey, with a comparable footprint to the CH-53E, will probably experience the same limitation. Will that restrict the areas to which an Osprey can operate? What about landing in a grassy environment? Can the Osprey operate in overgrown grassy areas such as the areas in Vietnam without igniting the grass from its exhaust? The last thing the USMC needs is another aircraft with landing restrictions. The Osprey has encountered severe vibration problems in flight. As of August 8, 1990, about 86 deficiencies had been noted, 33 of which were categorized as adversely affecting aircraft airworthiness, primary or secondary mission capability, crew effectiveness, or safety. (13:5) Understandably, most new aircraft under development do encounter deficiencies, but what is the status of those deficiencies? According to the report mentioned in the above paragraph, as of August 3, 1990, the Osprey was still 2,822 pounds overweight. (14:4) The contractor can probably eliminate some of that excess weight, but at what cost to the operational capabilities of the Osprey? The Osprey has successfully operated aboard United States Ships in 1990. According to Mr. Stanley W. Kandebo; Shipboard compatibility tests performed recently on board the USS Wasp confirmed that the tiltrotor is capable of operating safely from U,S, Navy Amphibious assault ships. (17:36) He goes on to say; According to Bell Boeing, no significant aircraft controllability of flight control issues were raised by the tests, but minor deficiencies in some systems were recorded. (18:36) Does the Osprey conform to the Navy's Safety Document(SD-572) requirements for operating aircraft aboard U.S. Vessels? During the initial sea trials the Osprey made a total of 9 landings to spot 9--the aft-most landing spot on the LHD--and 6 landings on spot 4. (19:38) Both of these spots are located either forward or aft of the island. Why didn't the Osprey land adjacent to the island, or even nose to tail to each other on adjacent spots? The Navy's SD-572 requires an aircraft landing adjacent to an island spot aboard an LHA to be 12 feet 8 inches from the island. With the Osprey centered on the fore/aft centerline of landing spots 5 and 6, the rotor clearance to the face of the island is 12.39 feet which does not conform to the minimum safe distance required by the Navy. Adjacent to spot 5, platforms installed inboard of the bridge wings make the minimum clearance of the Osprey and the island 8.39 feet. (2:60) This report goes on to talk about spot 6 and the minimum clearance of 10 feet to the island. So, will the Navy relax its safety standards to accommodate the Osprey? A problem can be foreseen when the seas are rough and a pilot is forced to land on one of the spots with limited clearance to the island under unstable conditions. How can the USMC accomplish its future missions when the ships it operates from cannot accommodate the Osprey? Will the way we operate have to be changed to accommodate an aircraft not compatible to our amphibious platforms? If one really looks at the big picture, the ship will not be able to launch large number of Ospreys to get the task force to shore because of limited spotting. Based on the tests done by the Navy Air Engineer Center, the clearances between turning Osprey's aboard an LHA on landing spots 2 and 3, 3A and 4, and 8 and 9 do not conform to the SD-573 requirements for a minimum clearance of 15 feet. (3:60) These tests further substantiate the claim that the Ground Commander of a Ground Combat Element(GCE) will not be able to get his men and equipment to shore as fast as reported in embellishments of the capabilities of the Osprey. The GCE Commander will have to rely on other means or once again change the way the Corps undertakes amphibious operations. Based on the above facts, it's hard to believe that 178 MV-22A's and 64 CH-53E's could lift 4944 men, 250 HMMWV's, 48 M-198's, 48 STTRUCK's, and 24 LAV's 50 NM's in 90 Minutes. (11:36) If the Osprey can not line up nose to tail and launch from every spot aboard the amphibious shipping, how can these numbers be valid? Another problem aboard ships that could prove to be fatal is when an Osprey operates near fueling/defueling stations. With the Osprey on the deck of a ship, the nacelles are approximately 51 inches above the ground. (4:22) Because of the physical characteristics of the Osprey, one of its two-engine nacelles will always overhang the deck edge during operations. This represents a potential fire hazard vhen the aircraft operates from particular LHD/LHA spots adjacent to catwalk aviation f fueling/defueling stations. (5:141) It's too early to say, but the heat and/or sparks from those nacelles could ignite the fuel causing severe damage and possible loss of lives. Boeing is installing exhaust deflectors on the nacelles of the Osprey for shipboard operations. But will the deflectors work as advertised? Once the force of Ospreys is launched from its amphibious platforms, will the aircraft be able to survive the battlefield? According to Major George J. Trautman, III; ... the modern battlefield is also full of weapons which are so lethal that no amount of vulnerability design reduction can fully counter their effects. Dedicated anti-aircraft artillery (ZSU 23-4, ZU-23, S-60), surface-to-air missiles (SA-6, SA-8,-SA-9, SA-13, and SA-14), air-to-air missiles (AA-8, AA-11, air launched SA-14, AIM-9), anti-tank guided missiles (AT-2, AT-3, AT-6), air-to-air guns (20-30 mm cannon), bombs, artillery and mortars are just a few of the systems the Osprey could face in combat. Given a direct hit by any of these weapons, it is unlikely that the MV-22 would survive to fight another day. (22:12) Historically speaking, the majority of helicopter losses have occurred in the final transition phase to landing. During this phase, the Osprey offers no advanced technology to defeat the above mentioned threat as a conventional helicopter does. Sure the Osprey is quicker than traditional helicopters, but flying at 250 knots is not enough to counter the threat it faces. The only thing speed gives the Osprey is the ability to get to the landing zone quicker--only to die in place quicker. Currently, the USMC doctrine does not plan for any dedicated assets to escort the Osprey at its speed. Once the Osprey flies out of range of Naval Gun Fire, Artillery and all other organic fire support assets, the GCE commander will be on his own in a potential hot landing zone, unsupportable until the rest of the landing force catches up. Finally, the biggest problem with the Osprey today revolves around the money issue. How much will the Osprey cost? It depends on who you ask. After reading countless volumes of material about the Osprey, the one thing that comes out in most of the readings is the difference in the amount of money a single "fly-away", Osprey will cost, anywhere from $15 to $55 million dollars per copy! Someone is obviously correct, but the majority of guessers appear to be hedging. If the experts cannot get on the band wagon and list the correct cost of the program, why should Marines believe them when they advertise the possible operational characteristics of the Osprey. In the long run, the Osprey will not help the USMC or anyone else if the proponents keep overstating the cost and capabilities of the Osprey. Here are just a few of the quoted sources to the cost of the Osprey: -The USMC, via point papers, fixed the unit flyaway cost at - only $15 million back in 1986. (23:8) -In the early stages of the Osprey program, the flyaway unit cost was approximately $21 million, but by late 1986, the cost was estimated between $28 and $32 million. Some experts predict that number to increase up to $50-$55 million per Osprey. (16:18) -In August of 1985, the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA) calculated a unit flyaway cost at $26.1 million. A House Armed Services Committee (HASC) staff member said the Osprey would cost $35 million per copy. (24:8) -At the time when Mr. Cheney cancelled the Osprey project, the unit cost was around $28 million. Now the cost is approximately $45 million. (10:53) The Osprey does offer increased capabilities. But, during a time when the national budget is so high, the Corps needs to re-focus and force the development of the proven technology incorporated in the Boeing 360, and transplant that technology into the development of the CH-46"X". If the Osprey reaches full production, at whatever price, it will eventuallly pinch funds from a lot of other Department of Defense programs, affecting the overall readiness of the Armed Forces. In an interview conducted by Perer Jennings on ABC World News Tonight aired on March 1st, 1992, ABC's John Martin said: no matter how versatile or visionary it might be, the V-22 is enormously expensive. Uncle Sam has spent four billion tax dollars on designs and prototypes. Out of five prototypes, two have crashed. One test pilot has quit. Trade publications report complaints that Boeing rushed the V-22 into a risky, fatal public performance. One veteran aviation expert said: Osprey's military version was unreliable, its commercial potential overrated. In the interview, aviation consultant, Morten meyer said: never has so much money been wasted to develop so little. (1:25) The future can be bright for the Osprey, especially in the civilian community. The introduction of the Osprey has the potential to revolutionalize air transportation in high density areas. The trade opportunities with the rest of the world are enormous if the United States (U.S.) produces the Osprey first. It could mean a lot of jobs and billions of dollars to the U.S. Currently, components for the Osprey are being manufactured by 2250-subcontractors located in 47 different states. (20:5) But until the bugs are all worked out, an alternative needs to be developed. The USMC cannot afford to delay any longer. The Corps must make a decision on what aircraft best meets the medium-lift requirements today. Boeing developed a modernized version of the CH-46 that first flew on the morning of June 10, 1987, opening a new chapter in tandem-rotor technology. That aircraft was the BV-360, or the "Son of Phrog." The 360 is a 1980's technology aircraft built largely of composite materials. It is the largest composite helicopter in the world. It resembles the "Phrog" with a number of advanced systems and incorporates a number of proven cost- efficient CH-47D systems. All of these systems have contributed to the 360's increased airspeed, decreased weight, and improved reliability. The 360 can fly at a comfortable 200 knots cruise airspeed with a top speed of 214 knots. The 360 has a high-speed articulating rotor system made of composite material that incorporates a new transonic airfoil and a planform design that can provide, according to Boeing, a 23 percent increase in cruise efficiency and permit cruise speeds in excess of 200 knots. The 360 is designed to operate at gross weights up to 48,000 pounds, with an initial design gross weight of 30,500 pounds. The engines and transmission systems are all proven, cost- efficient CH-47D components. The aircraft incorporates a state- of-the-art glass cockpit comparable to the Osprey. The 360 utilizes the CH-47D load-stabilizing triple-cargo-hook system designed to carry up to 18,000 pounds on the forward and aft hooks and the center hook to handle up to 30,000 pounds. The 360 can carry the USMC 198 howitzer. The 360 can also carry 24 fully combat troops or rig for 15 litters and fly a 200nm flight. Another aircraft capable of meeting the medium-lift requirements that encompasses all the proven, cost efficient technology from the 360 is the CH-46X, which would cost a lot less than the Osprey. The CH-46X or the BV-360 would allow the USMC to accomplish all its assigned missions without changing the way it conducts amphibious operations, at an affordable price. Given the era of our present declining budget and increased debt, the Osprey is simply not affordable. Let the civilian community pick up the tab of its future development and let the USMC get back into being the war fighters it's suppose to be, with a fleet of upgraded CH-46"X"'s or BV-360's that will take the USMC to the year 2020. Since 1969, the USMC identified the need to replace the CH- 46 with a new platform. The push was on for industry to develop an aircraft that would meet the medium lift requirements that would take the USMC well into the 21st Century. Twenty-four years later, the replacement has not arrived. The MV-22 was chosen as the replacement, but it has not met the standards required, or brought out in this paper. Traditional helicopters have proven themselves time and time again. They may not match some of the super technology the MV-22 has to offer, but if the USMC is to progress into the 21st Century, the 360 or the CH-46"X" just be selected because the funds just are not in the budget to be producing 50 million dollar helicopters! BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT. Interview by Peter Jennings with Mr. John Martin and Morten Beyer, March 1, 1992, 25. 2. Bloom, W. M. "Shipboard Capability/Supportability of the V-22 Aircraft." Report from the Naval Air Engineering Center, Lakehurst, N.J., April 15, 1988, 60. 3. Ibid, 60. 4. Ibid, 22. 5. Ibid, 141. 6. Boeing Defense and Space Group. Fact sheet published by Boeing Helicopter Company. October 1992, 1. 7. Boeing Transitions. Pamphlet published by Boeing Helicopter Company. Fall 1987, 14. 8. Bioty, John R. "United States Marine Corps Aircraft Munitions: per in Desert Storm." Marine Aviation brief for the Secretary of Defense, September 10, 1991, 9. 9. Crouch, Michael. "The V-22: Can the Nation Afford to Forgo its Production"? Naval Postgraduate School paper, December 1991, 11. 10. Ibid, 53. 11. Darling, Colonel . "Warfighting the V-22." Amphibious Warfare Review, Spring 1989, 36. 12. Ibid, 27. 13. Ferber, M.M. "Naval Aviation, The V-22 Osprey-Progress and Problems." Report to the Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Armed Service, House of Representatives." October 1990, 5. 14. Ibid, 4. 15. Hooper, Evan W. "50 years of Tandem Rotor Helicopter Engineering." Royal Aeronautical Society, London, October 6, 1992, 4. 16. Johnson, LtCol. S.T. "The V-22 Osprey: Phoenix or Albatross"? US Army War College paper, April 9, 1992, 18. 17. Kandebo, S.W. "Shipboard Tests Confirm V-22 Operations Capability." Aviation Week and Space Technology, January 14, 1991, 36. 18. Ibid, 36. 19. Ibid, 38. 20. Ryan, David. "V-22 Osprey, Endangered Species." Graduate Research paper #642 at Embry Riddle, November 8, 1990, 5. 21. Spivey, Richard F. "The V-22 Osprey the aircraft that will change the way the world flys." Amphibious Warfare Review." Summer/Fall 1992, 60. 22. Trautman III, Major G.J. "Can the Osprey Survive in Combat: An assessment of the MV-22 Combat Effectiveness." Naval War College paper, February 16, 1988, 12. 23. Ibid, 8. 24. Ibid, 8. 25. "USMC to explore Medium-Lift Alternatives." Air Power, November 1992, 37.
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