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MV-22 Osprey:  The Best Solution To The Marine Corps Medium Lift Requirement
AUTHOR Major Lenn M. Lanahan, USMC
CSC 1990
THESIS: With the CH-46 approaching its twenty-sixth year of
service life, a long term replacement, such as the MV-22
Osprey, must be acquired to fill the Marine Corps medium
lift requirement well into the twenty-first century.
ISSUE:  The Marine Corps is facing an extreme challenge in
overcoming short falls that exist in its tonnage lift
capabilities and medium lift assault requirement.  The MV-22
Osprey is the least expensive, most significant and best
technologically developed aircraft to meet these needs.
Tilt-rotor development began in 1951 when the U.S. Army
contracted with Bell Helicopters to build the XV-3.  Bell
Helicopters produced the XV-15 in the 1970's and proved
beyond a doubt the importance of the tilt-rotor.  In 1978,
the Marine Corps set the criteria for an aircraft to satisfy
its medium lift requirements. The Joint Service Advance
Vertical Lift Aircraft (JVX) was approved and met the
specified criteria. Bell Helicopters and Boeing Vertol
teamed together to produce this aircraft, the MV-22 Osprey.
Looking only at dollar amounts and not considering the
MV-22's tremendous flexibility, Secretary of Defense Cheney
cancelled the Osprey program.  This action angered many
Congressmen who have formed a bipartisan coalition to revive
the program.
CONCLUSION:  The United States is in position to be the
first to effectively use the tilt-rotor technology both
commercially and militarily.  The MV-22 Osprey is the best
all around solution to the Marine Corps medium lift
THESIS STATEMENT.  With the CH-46 approaching its
twenty-sixth year of service life, a long term replacement,
such as the MV-22 Osprey, must be acquired to fill the
Marine Corps medium lift requirement well into the
twenty-first century.
I.    History of the tilt-rotor
      A.  Early development
      B.  The promise of the XV-15
      C.  The reality of the MV-22
II.   Capabilities of MV-22
      A.  Flight characteristics
      B.  Self-deployable benefits
III.  Alternatives to the MV-22 Osprey program
IV.   Current status of the MV-22 Program
      A.  Department of Defense position
      B.  Congressional support
V.    Possible future for the MV-22 program
      As the 1990's begin, the Marine Corps is facing an
extreme challenge in overcoming short falls that exist in
its tonnage lift capability and medium lift assault support
requirements.  With the CH-46 approaching its twenty-sixth
year of service life, a long term replacement, such as the
MV-22 Osprey, must be acquired to fill the Marine Corps
medium lift requirement well into the twenty-first century.
The MV-22 Osprey is the product of over thirty years of
technological development and is described as the single
most significant development in aviation since the jet
engine. (15:54)
      In 1951, the U.S. Army contracted Bell Helicopters to
design a convertiplane which was later designated the XV-3.
Tilt-rotor technology has progressed greatly since XV-3's
first flight in 1958.  As a relatively small aircraft with a
length of 30 feet and a wing span of 54 feet, the XV-3 had a
cruise airspeed of 175 mph.  While the XV-3 was a
convertiplane, it could autorotate like a helicopter in the
event of engine failure. (9:229)  The XV-3 became the
foundation of tilt-rotor technololy over the next seven
years of testing during which it made more than 110
      During the 1960's, both Bell Helicopters and Boeing
Vertol continued conducting independent research into
convertiplane technology; however, without governmental
support neither company's research was overly successful.
Each company continued to develop its own approach to the
convertiplane.  Boeing Vertol concentrated on tilt-wing
design while Bell Helicopter continued developing the
tilt-rotor design.
      In the early 1970's, the Army, Navy, and National
Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) entered into a
contract with Bell Helicopter to produce two tilt-rotor
aircraft to be designated the XV-15.  These prototypes,
which first flew in April 1977, were to become the test beds
upon which tilt-rotor technology would be proven.  After
more than 600 flight test hours and some 1800 conversion
operations, the XV-15 proved beyond a doubt that tilt-rotor
technology and advancing aerospace construction technology
would make the MV-22 viable.(10:12)
      The Marine Corps began in 1978 to delineate criteria
for the HXM, the designation for replacement aircraft, which
would satisfy the Marines medium lift requirements through
the early part of the twenty-first century.  Initially, the
HXM would have to meet five criteria.  The first criteria
was that the aircraft would have to possess a dash airspeed
of 300 knots.  Next, the aircraft must have fuel endurance
of at least three hours.  The HXM must be designed to have a
deck spotting factor comparable to a CH-46.  It must be able
to survive 12.7mm to the fuselage and 23mm high explosive
incendiary to the drive system.  Finally, HXM's flight
performance had to be able to take-off vertically with a
payload of 8190 pounds at sea level on a 90F day and hover
out of ground effect with a payload of 5520 pounds at 3000
feet MSL on a 91.5F day.(11:50)
      In December 1981, the Joint Service Advance Vertical
Lift Aircraft (JVX) was formally approved, and the JVX
became the expected replacement for the Marine Corps medium
lift requirement HXM in the 1990's.  As early as May 1982,
the tilt-rotor concept became the front runner for the JVX
as studies were showing that JVX could fill more missions
and cover at least three times the ground that a helicopter
could cover.(2:42-43).
      Preliminary design efforts to build the JVX were based
on the following Multi Service Mission Requirements:
      -- Capability to hover out of ground effect at 3000
         feet on a 91.5F day with a 8300 pound external load
     -- Dash speed of 275 knots
      -- Tactical range of 1400 nautical miles (nm)
      -- Self-deployable range of 2100nm
These mission requirements met or exceeded the Marine Corps
criteria for its medium lift requirement.(16:84-85)  Bell
Helicopters and Boeing Vertol teamed together, and responded
with a tilt-rotor concept, designated the MV-22 Osprey,
which met all the Multi Service Mission Requirements.  The
MV-22 was further designed to be compatible with LHA and LHD
amphibious shipping which dictated a wing span of 85 feet 10
inches and a length of 60 feet 11 inches for all services.
      The Department of Defense was programmed for a purchase
of 913 MV-22's which involved each of the four services
(USMC 552, USN 50, USAF 80, AND USA 231).  While the program
buy was set, a considerable rise in production was expected
as the capability and versatility of this concept were
further proven.(1:595)  With the benefits of higher speeds,
greater range, lower noise levels, and improved
maneuverability as proven by XV-15, the JVX/MV-22 program
was heralded as a dramatic departure from existing
hel i'=opter technology  (16:85)
      As the MV-22 Osprey program began to take shape, the
Navy was the first to look at increasing its purchase order.
Visualizing an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) variant MV-22,
the MV-22 Osprey was first seen as a supplement to and then
as a replacement for the S-3A/B.  The idea was that the
MV-22 would deploy on the larger carrier decks and use the
other air capable ships in the task force to extend its
launch cycle times.  With the MV-22 Osprey's large cabin
volume which could store up to sixty passive sonobouys, the
MV-22 Osprey would be able to execute two or three missions
per launch cycle.  Another strong selling point to the Navy
for an ASW variant was the ability to exploit vertical
flight capabilities.  This could be essential if the Navy
was to prosecute Soviet submarines in their favorite hiding
places under the Polar Cap.  The Navy was strong on the
ability to "soft-deploy" and recover expensive sensors in
order to take more active measures against the Soviet
newer, quieter, and larger missile submarines.(6:30)
      As part of the fiscal 1987 continuing resolution, the
House and Senate approved full funding for two Department of
Defense top-priority programs, the LHX and MV-22 Osprey.
This resolution fully funded the fixed-price full-scale
development cost. (5:80)
      May 1988 could well be the high water mark for this
program.  On the positive side, the first full-scale
prototype was rolled out at Bell Helicopter's Arlington,
Texas plant.  However, citing approaching budgetary
constraints the Navy abandoned the ASW variant, the Air
Force reduced its requirement by twenty-five, and the Army
withdrew completely from the program.(14:19)
      While six MV-22 Osprey prototypes will continue their
flight test profile, tbe tilt-rotor design is proving itself
capable of meeting or exceeding all the Multi Service
Mission Requirements.  After making its first flight, on
March 19, 1989, which consisted of slow taxis, lift-offs,
hover turns, and run-on landings, the test program continued
generally on track.  During the Fall of 1989, the MV-22's
test profiles achieved an equivalent airspeed of 250 knots.
      The tremendous flexibility for tactical employment of
force on the modern battlefield promised by the tilt-rotor
speed, range, and versatility makes the MV-22 Osprey the
aviation cornerstone for over-the-horizon (OTH) amphibious
operations.  The requirement to be able to execute OTH
operations is being dictated by the increases in weapons'
accuracy, lethality, and numbers defending even Third World
beaches.  The precept behind the implementation of OTH is
the need to reduce the risk to the Amphibious Task Force
(ATF).  No longer can it be expected that the ATF will be
able to operate within 4000 meters of most beach in the
world with impunity.  While the OTH concept increases the
survivability of the ATF, it is also in keeping with
maneuver warfare.  By expanding the Amphibious Objective
Area (AOA) to allow the ATF more defensive maneuvering
space, OTH expands the area with which the defender must be
concerned when developing defensive courses of action.  This
advantage can quickly disappear without the technology such
as the air cushion, the tilt-rotor, and the advanced assault
amphibious vehicle (AAAV).
      The Navy-Marine Corps team is developing a strong triad
to meet the OTH requirement based on the Landing Craft Air
Cushion (LCAC), MV-22 Osprey, and AAAV.  The MV-22 is
designed to do two cycles from the ATF to a Force Beach Head
(FBH> which is 110nm away, to loiter for forty minutes
within the FBH during each cycle, and to return to the ATF
for refueling with a twenty minutes fuel reserve.  The MV-22
is the keystone of the aviation component of the OTH triad
since existing or projected helicopters lack either the
range, speed, or lift capacity to execute an OTH operation
successfully. (4:87-88)
      In preparation for the FY 90 Department of Defense
budget, Secretary of Defense Cheney, in an effort to reduce
the defense budget, announced the cancellation of the MV-22
Osprey program.  Secretary Cheney primarily based his
decision on the projected cost of the MV-22 program which is
expected to range from 25-30 billion dollars.  While the
programmed unit price in 1996 was estimated to be 20 million
dollars for a purchase of 900 aircraft, fly away cost when
the first prototype was rolled out ranged from 16-34.5
million dollars.(14:20)  This cost analysis is based on
current purchase numbers and research and development costs.
With a figure of 25 million dollars generally being accepted
as the unit price, reductions in the numbers of production
aircraft increases directly increases the unit cost.  This
attempt to reduce the defense budget by cancelling the MV-22
Osprey program has necessitated the development of an
alternative medium lift capability by the Department of
      Department of Defense analysts developed an alternative
to the MV-22 Osprey which utilized a combination of CH-53E's
and HH-60's helicopters.  This alternative was presented in
two options that were based on the concept of single sling
or dual sling operations to bring the Marine Air Ground Task
Force (MAGTF) equipment ashore.  The single sling option
calls for the HH-60 to carry troops and the CH-53E to carry
a partial load of troops while externally transporting a
HMMWV.  The 590 HH-60's and 376 CH-53E's, which are required
by the single sling option, means that the Department of
Defense will have to purchase 364 more helicopters than the
602 MV-22's to accomplish the same lift requirements.  The
second option to the alternative is the dual sling option
which is the same as the single sling option, except that
instead of externally lifting a single HMMWV with passengers
the CH-53E's would carry two bolted together HMMWV's and a
partial load of troops.  Dual sling operations would still
require 225 CH-53E's and 478 HH-60's or 101 more helicopters
than tilt-rotors.(3:4)
      Any mix of helicopters, which replaces the MV-22
Osprey, will not be inexpensive.  This is particularly true
if the helicopters are equipped with the modern avionics
that are required to achieve the navigation and
communications at night in adverse weather capabilities
comparable to the MV-22.(3:4)  The Marine Corps cost
analysis of the MV-22 and the Department of Defense
alternatives over a twenty year life cycle shows the MV-22
Osprey to be more cost effective than either option by as
much as 1.3-14.1 billion dollars.  When the Department of
Defense analysts did their origin cost analysis, they failed
to include several cost factors of the helicopter options.
These analysts only considered the cost of plain vanilla
helicopters that did not have a comparable night/all weather
capability.  They also failed to consider that the larger
number of helicopters would require more pilots and
maintenance personnel which means higher personnel cost and
training cost.  Furthermore, they did not recognize that a
large helicopter fleet, both in size and number, would
entail more military construction funding for parking ramps
and hangars.(18:12)  Finally, these analysts failed to
account for the increased costs of strategic lift since
neither of the helicopters are self-deployable unlike the
self-deployable MV-22 Osprey.  The strategic costs in
themselves could be overwhelming as it takes one C-5 for
every five HH-60's and another C-5 for every two CH-53E's to
be able to deploy these helicopters.
      The Marine Corps continues to argue against both the
single sling and dual sling options.  The single sling
option is unacceptable because it is more than fifty percent
more expensive than the MV-22 Osprey.  Marine Corps
officials dispute the dual sling option for two reasons.
First, this option is also more expensive than the MV-22
without consideration of the overlooked cost.  Secondly and
most importantly, the dual sling option is not tactically
sound.  Not only does it increase the logistical and
administrative time aboard ship during the pre-assault
phase, but it requires a like amount of time in the landing
zone during the asault.
      In testimony before the House Armed Service Committee
on February 20,1990, General Gray responded to questioning
about the viability of using the dual sling option as
      I consider this whole dialogue of dual sling option
      totally ridiculous.  It has nothing to do with coming
      from the sea in a wide variety of scenarios...  It has
      nothing to do with warfighting.(3:4)
During General Gray's testimony, he asked that the Congress
take a new look at the MV-22 Osprey program in light of
affordability issues.
      As early as June 1988, General Gray has been concerned
with the lack of enthusiasm for the MV-22 which has been
Marine Aviation's highest priority program since May 1985.
When Secretary of Defense Cheney canceled the MV-22 program
in June 1989, both the Marine Corps and Congress protested
this decision.  While the Congress failed in the ensuing
budgetary battle to support the MV-22 Osprey procurement
program, it did reinstate 351 million dollars into the FY 90
budget to fund research and development costs of the
MV-22.(8:4)  The Congressional FY 90 Defense Appropriation
Conference Report directed the Department of Defense to
compare the MV-22 Osprey with the helicopter alternative and
base any termination decisions on a cost and operation
effectiveness analysis (COEA).(12:16)
     After Congress had specifically directed the Department
of Defense to continue funding through FY 90, Deputy Defense    
Secretary Atwood sent a memo to the Secretary of the Navy
which directed Secretary Garrett to terminate all contracts
funded under the FY 89 budget for advance procurement of
long lead-time items.  While Deputy Secretary of Defense
Atwood took this action in order to protect the public's
fiscal interest by ceasing expenditures on a program which
DOD earmarked for cancellation, he undertook this action
without first ascertaining what the contractual termination
costs would be involved.(7:4)
      While Deputy Secretary of Defense Atwood's actions have
angered many members of the Congress, the Congress will
fight in subsequent budget hearings to retain this program
on its own merits.(13:26)  In order to press for continuing
funding of the MV-22 Osprey program, a bipartisan coalition
was established.  The members of this coalition are Sen.
Lloyd BentSen. (D,TX), Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R,NY), Sen.
Phil Gramm (R,TX), Sen. John Heinz (R,PA), Sen. Arlen
Specter (R,PA), Rep. Lane Evans (D,IL), Rep. Thomas M.
Foglietta (R,PA), Rep. Martin Frost (D,TX), Rep. Pete Geren
(D,TX), Rep. George Hochbrueckner (D,NY), Rep. Martin
Lancaster (D,NC), and Rep. Curt Weldon (R,PA).  Rep. Weldon
summarized the Tilt-rotor Technology Coalition's position
when he said, "We can't sell the B-2 bomber to TWA, and we
can't sell a missile submarine to Carnival Cruise Lines, but
the MV-22 can be used as a civil air transport."(3:4)
      While Congressional backers of the MV-22 Osprey program
develop their long term strategy, they have identified 700
million dollars from the FY 91 with which they plan to
revive the program.  This 700 million dollars consist of the
235 million dollars of unspent long lead procurement which
the Department of Defense froze, and 400 million dollars
from the purchase of CH-53E's which would be part of the
interim alternative to the MV-22.  With the wherewithal to
keep this program in the FY 91 budget, the Coalition is
looking at two complimentary strategies to give the MV-22
long term budgetary life.  The first strategy is to lengthen
the procurement period by reducing the near term years
production.  This strategy would make the expenditures for
the program more palpable to the Congress as the budgetary
line amounts would be in millions of dollars versus billions
of dollars. (8:4)  To complement this strategy, the Marine
Corps, the Department of the Navy, and the production team
of Bell Helicopters and Boeing Vertol have to lower the unit
price by stimulating Foreign Military Sales and civilian
      Commercial variants would be essentially the same as
the MV-22 except that it would have a pressurized cabin and
seating for upwards to fifty-two passengers.  These commuter
aircraft could operate for metropolitan airports of about
four acres in dimension.  As an added benefit the two hour
tilt-rotor flight from New York to Boston may be as much as
half the time it takes today to ground commute from the
office to the airport and then from the airport to the
office.  The Port Authorities of New York and New Jersey
have estimated that by the year 2000 there will be 5-8
million passengers a year moving in and out of New York,
generating over a billion dollars of new business.  Six
European companies, Messerschmitt-Boelkow-Blohm,
Aerospatiale, Aeritalia, Agusta, CASA, and Westland have
banned together to evaluate the tilt-rotor and its
applications in Europe.  This group envisions the aircraft
as a key source of local/regional transportation through the
1990's.  With this interest in existence, Bell Helicopters
and Boeing Vertol should be able to enter into a joint
production agreement with the Europeans to help reduce the
unit cost of the MV-22 Osprey.(19:51)
      The Department of Defense, the Marine Corps, and the
Congress agree that the Marine Corps has a serious short
fall in its medium lift requirement as it heads into the
twenty-first century.  While the Department of Defense
alternative appears to be less expensive than the MV-22
                **** text missing ****
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