Friday, October 19, 2007

Oh, Spray

It appears that the Time Magazine issue with the Marine Corps Osprey on the cover was spraying bunk. Lubbock Marine Parents whose motto is: "Freedom is not free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share." -Ned Dolan, has the story.

I am so glad to see this article. I am not a Time Magazine reader, but happened to see this particular issue in the library. I saw the Osprey on the cover and because one of my sons is in an Osprey squadron, I was curious about it and read it. It was extremely negative. I came home and started searching on the internet and found lots of blogs talking about the Osprey in a very negative way too. When I next talked to my son I asked him about the points that the article made. He said most of them were either outright wrong or dated. One of the blog posts I read even stated that the prop wash from the Osprey would rip a Marine's clothes right off of him and that the Osprey wasn't equipped to fly into clouds. My son has been in the Osprey while it was flying through clouds, so I knew right off that that part wasn't true. He also works with Ospreys every day and has NEVER heard of any one's clothes being ripped off. Where did that even come from? Just made up on the spot by the blog author? I didn't know enough to put together a whole blog post about it and answer all the accusations, so I was thrilled to find this article. Be sure and read that last paragraph.
There is a lot more in the article, but this bit about the forward facing gun issue interested me the most. Quoting from an Air Force Times news report:
There’s also the issue of defensive weaponry. The Ospreys that press reports say are now operating in Iraq, all with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, are equipped with M240G medium machine guns pointed out the back ramp, ready to spray hundreds of 7.62mm bullets into a hot landing zone.

Retired Gen. James Jones, former commandant of the Marine Corps, told Time he’d always wanted the Osprey to have a forward-mounted gun, a .50-caliber under the nose — something he never pulled off as the Corps’ top Marine.

Jones thinks all assault support aircraft should have forward-facing weaponry, according to the article. He described it to Time as a fundamental belief stemming from his Vietnam War experience: Biggest and baddest is best. A spokesman from Jones’ office said the retired general was unavailable to comment for this article.

The Time article quoted Jones as saying, “A rear-mounted gun is better than no gun at all, but I don’t know how much better.”

But Walters said the Osprey’s rear machine gun is the same weapon system the Corps has in every assault support aircraft, none of which has guns facing forward.

Over the past five years, side gunners firing from CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan “found that most of the threat was on the ramp,” Walters said.

He said Jones wasn’t the only Marine to stand by a forward gun on principle.

“It’s an emotional issue for a lot of people,” Walters said. “I can come up with a scenario where it would be valuable, but we haven’t seen it in five years of combat.”
Experience is the best teacher. If you want to learn more about how Time got intimate with the pooch GRTWT.

Update: I think this quote about accuracy in the Drive By Media is particularly apt:
“Thompson left out the part where I indicated my support and hopes for VMM-263’s success and resultantly I am presented as a ‘critic,’ ” he wrote. “That’s what I get for attempting a complete thought with a reporter who’s reverse-engineering a story.”
Cross Posted at Classical Values


LarryD said...

Between laziness, incompetence, and bias, "journalists" should not be trusted. Refuse interview requests. Write your own blog, or find ones you trust.

Anonymous said...

There are very good reasons for why the V-22 is called the "Flying Body Bag".

As pointed out in a recent CDI report on the Osprey:

"VRS and blade stall comprise the most dangerous and complex issues facing the program. VRS can
be deadly and is intensified by the blade stall (and loss of lift) triggered during descent when
the V-22’s extremely high-twist rotorprops cause the smooth laminar flow across the blades’
upper surfaces to be replaced by boundary layer separation and turbulent flow. This is the
primary reason why the maximum vertical descent speed of 800 feet per minute (fpm)—
that’s just 9.1 mph—is mandated for this aircraft. It is so slow it will make the V-22 an easy
target. This performance limitation is lethal to the aircraft as well as its crew and human
cargo. Equally bad, combat pilots trying to insert troops urgently into a “hot” landing zone,
where the enemy is shooting, may try to descend more quickly, thus encountering VRS,
which will likely roll the aircraft into an inverted dive toward the ground and lose everyone
on board in the process. So should a pilot choose to descend at 9.1 mph? If he does, he’ll get
shot out of the sky. Should the pilot go in fast instead? If he does, a crash is imminent. It’s a
Catch-22. This design anomaly has not been, and probably cannot be, eliminated.
Now add in faulty flight control software that tries to counter pilot commands, alternately
increasing and decreasing power to aircraft rotors. At a March 2006 event, a V-22 inadvertently
took off by itself, falling back to the ground and snapping off a wing, demonstrating the
frailty of the system.

And those new M240's won't help much against the hail of insurgent-preferred RPGs that will be headed toward the aircraft as it descends to an LZ at dreamlike, maximum allowed descent rate of 9.1 mph. Perfect target.

I am praying hard for that father and his young marine.

M. Simon said...


The Osprey is designed for a different mission than a helicopter.

It lands like an airplane and takes off like a helicopter.

Its stall speed in horizontal flight is 40 mph.

In any case it is not designed to be a "Lone Ranger". There will be helicopters, and fighter aircraft supporting it.

One has to look at, not just the aircraft in isolation, but also the mission it was designed for.

You don't go into a hot LZ unsupported. Basic rule of air mobile tactics.

Anonymous said...

Msimon, here is the report I was referring to -- perhaps you can comment on the criticisms presented.

M. Simon said...

Looks to me like the early reports on the Harrier AV-8.

Similar problems with down wash feedback.

The fact that it can't do what a helicopter does means nothing. Neither, can a B-52.

BTW the problems I saw in the report look like typical teething problems for a new technology aircraft.

The high death toll vs AV-8 is simply a function of its ability to transport combat troops.

The real test will come in Iraq. If the pilots are OK with the aircraft that is a good sign.