More V-22 Osprey

A V-22A Osprey aircraft flies over the bow of the amphibious assault ship USS WASP (LHD 1) during shipboard compatibility trials. Camera Operator: PH3 RAUL L. SOLCIDO Date Shot: 5 Dec 1990

“Date Shot: 5 Dec 1990”. Think about that. This Osprey was conducting shipboard compatibility trials while the military build-up of Operation Desert Shield was underway. There was a flying example of the V-22 way back then. First flight was actually in early 1989.

This has been a long time coming.

David Axe at Defense Tech has a good one up today: Osprey Ready for Primetime? Part One. Be sure to check it out.

See also: Concerns about the Osprey? Who knew?, posted last night here on MO.

Also, I just learned that then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney cancelled the V-22 program in the 1990 defense budget and called for the development of a new long-range helicopter, but was over-ridden by Congress.

I plan to whip that one out next time a Leftie gives me any static about the Osprey. Dick Cheney tried to cancel it but a Democrat-controlled Congress restored it. That’s delicious.

Meanwhile, Marines are headed to war in it. This is going to pass from a passing discussion to a war zone reality very shortly. Let’s hope the damn thing works.

Pic from DVIC.


  1. That was back when Cheney had a pair. I thought he was going to be the greatest VP ever, and get some things straightened out in the DoD. He’s been a big disappointment. The V-22 has fundamental design flaws that will cause it to kill crews thoughout its service life. They have proceedures in place that will prevent most accidents from occurring, but it will still have a relatively high rate of crashes. This will be especially true in combat where not all proceedures for landings will be possible. It is very unfortunate that so many resources and lives have been and will be expended on this piece of garbage before it is through.

  2. I’m not aware of any fundamental design flaws that will cause the Osprey to fall out of the sky on a regular basis (but I’m not an expert either), but I’d bet it’s a good bit safer than riding around in a 40 year old CH-46 that is falling apart. My issue isn’t with the bird itself, but does it really take that long to put a aircraft into operation? The XV-15 was buzzing around in the early 80’s! While MV-22 is fun to watch, wouldn’t the marines be better served with a bunch of brand new Sikorsky S-92s at $10mm a pop instead of a $44mm Osprey? You can afford to lose a cuppla helos, but not many Ospreys!

  3. Well, if you’re going to compare it to a Chinook, then yeah, it’s plenty safe, I’m sad to say. A long time? They started on the F-22 in ’84. They started on the JSF, hmm, when was that, maybe ’94? They won’t even think about making it operational for 5 to 10 more years. Ironically they designed the previous bunch of fighters (F-14, F-15, F-16, F-18) with slide rules in 1/5th the time. Welcome to the brave new world of aerospace.

  4. Since I’m on a roll, they’ve been trying to upgrade the avionics and slap new engines on the C-5 since ’98. Thats longer than it took to build the thing from scratch, and that’s a helluva big airplane. Boeing’s been screwing with a new avionics suite for the C-130 (‘derived from that of the 737’) since 2001, which is about twice as long as it took to design that airplane, and they’ve still got several years to go. Heck, that one is remarkable even by today’s standards since the C-130J was already flying around with a new, more capable avionics system than Boeing’s doing for 3 years when they won the competition by hiring Darlene Druyun’s daughter and promising her a nice comfy position in their company (missionary, I think, could have been doggy style though). And the J had new engines and a new cargo handling system too. Even so it took Lockmart twice as long to do those upgrades than it took to design the airplane from scratch. Oh yeah, and remember how the B-2 was so darn expensive and gold plated and all? The F-22 cost twice as much to develop and took twice as long. Coincidentally, it costs twice as much per lb. too. It is an even bigger bargain if you look compare prices per lb. of ordinance carried. Even so, 12 years to design the B-2 at a billion per? Yikes. Then they only build 20? Bend over tax paying buddy.

  5. The problem with the Osprey is that its a ‘revolutionary’ answer to a problem that technology has already solved. That is how to get heavy loads, a long distance, quickly, into places where you don’t have a runway. (See gps guided air drops) Other then cargo – the only other real mission the Osprey stands out in, is search and rescue. So its a good niche player. The Osprey can’t really be a gun ship. With its design limitations, I would hate to try to modify it for an armed role. Its a sitting duck for enemy air power or ground based defenses. There is no way to give any real stealth ability and (I could be wrong on this one) there is no way to hang some ECM or targeting pods on this puppy. While they say its fast, its only fast if you compare it to a helicopter. With its pressurization issues, don’t even think about sending it into Afghanistan. IMO the Marines would of been better off buying more cheaper helicopters and buying a few AC-130’s

  6. You’re right about the stealth thing. There’s no way to hide those huge rotors. Ducted fans would be easier to hide like the VTOL F-35 version, for instance. Maybe we’ll get to that in another 40 years or so. Hey, James, ever feel like the alien? [1, 2, 3, 4]

  7. Dfens makes a point….is there a reason the Osprey was designed around/still has rotors instead of turbine-powered ducted fans? Or, just high-bypass turbines? The only reason I can think of is there may be greater lift available with large diameter rotors (which would have lower air velocity than ducted fans, which may be an issue), and/or since rotors are established technology we know how to make them work. From what I’ve read many of the Osprey’s problems stem from power transmission issues from the cross-linking of the engines which, based on the design, can’t be eliminated.

  8. A ducted fan powered Osprey like craft would be superior in every meaningful respect. Chief among these include – faster, stealthier, more fuel efficient, more survivable, and safer. That said, the Osprey is the result of ducted fan technology being judged (or more correctly damned) before its time. The Osprey was viewed as the low risk option when compared to the X-22 concept. The early ducted fan craft were mechanically very complex, had stability issues and required high level of pilot skill. If we apply modern flight controls (fly by wire),gimbaled ducted fan mounts, and the advances in turbine tech, we would have a true ‘revolutionary’ light transport.

  9. I don’t know why the Marines keep going along with this high priced boondoggle. Is it because they have always had to do more with less and pride themselves in overcoming problems? The V-22 needs to be sent to the never will work, no matter how much money you throw at it junkyard. Even if…it didn’t have mechanical problems, electrical problems, hardware problems, software problems and all the rest of its shortcomings, it is not what the Marines need NOW. I’m so sick of everyone making excuses for this highpriced piece of junk. It is even worse than the Stryker that the Army had shoved down it’s throat. At least when a Stryker is destroyed, only a few people die. In a V-22 many more die. The process and programs we get warfighting materials and equipment for our military is broke beyond reason and sanity. And we are paying for the insanity. Papa Ray West Texas USA

  10. Yeah, it’s typical of today’s military-industrial con job how the V-22 was sold as being much less complex and lower risk than the old X-22. In reality it is just as complex, it doesn’t autorotate as advertised, and it has inherit aerodynamic flaws that make it dangerous near the ground. We could be using other approachs to VTOL, like the F-35 does, for example. I have another approach I’d like to explore that I can’t really talk about here. I suppose it’ll go to the grave with me. Better that than it should be given to our enemies. I wonder how many other engineers have similar good ideas they’ll do the same with? I believe the number is large, very large. I remember a time when that wasn’t true. A time when ideas were the currency of our industry.

  11. Well, Dfens, you better find a way for you and other engineers to get your ideas out of your head and into production. Buy a Senator or two, form your own company, make the stock public, give a free hooker visit with every one hundred shares, What ever… Because the current method of getting warfighting equipment and supplies to our troops is BROKEN, CORUPT and WORSE than useless, it is criminal. Oh, I finally found the link I couldn’t find earlier. Study: V-22 Osprey Flaws ‘Lethal’ Tue, 30 Jan ’07 That is just the latest study. There are earlier ones that are just as critical. Politics overrules the safety of our troops. That is criminal…. Papa Ray West Texas USA

  12. If I become one of them, our troops are not any better off than they are now. I do what I can to make things better every day just like the vast majority of those I work with. It’s a losing battle, though, because the deck is stacked against us. When something becomes as political as the V-22, there is no room for reason. You just have to wait for the politicians to blow themselves out, and hope our soldiers can adapt and overcome with the junk they have to work with.