Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Belly Gun for the V-22 Osprey? No rant but this doesn't make sense!

The desired gun would retract and extend to provide suppressive fires as extra protection on landing or takeoff. The caliber is still to be determined, Gehler said.

"I'd take it right now if we could figure it out. But I'd rather have one that actually works, that's good, that meets the mission requirements. Rather good than fast," said Air Force Col. Tom Palenske, commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing. interviewed Palenske earlier this month as part of Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson's recent trip to Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

"When we go out there, and we bring enough force to put on the ground to make sure we own that [space], we turn that little patch of whatever country we're in into a little patch of America. That way, our guys get in and get out safely," he said, adding the service's version of the aircraft, the CV-22, came in handy during his deployment to Afghanistan seven years ago.

"Some of the times when we'd go in there, we'd get into a gunfight. We weren't welcome in their neighborhood, I guess," said Palenske, referencing how the V-22 faced Taliban fire. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012.

But "we did 107 assaults in 120 days," he added. "At the end of the day, this is a combat airplane. The challenge is, gunfights in the past, you'd have to turn away from it because your gun is on the tail," he said of the .50 cal machine gun on the aircraft's back ramp.

"Now if we put a gun that could do forward firing, if we get engaged, we could continue [to] forward target the guys" enough to clear the area, he said.

Palenske, who enlisted in the Army and was a door gunner on the UH-1N Huey and UH-60 Black Hawk prior to flying the HH-60 Pave Hawk and MH-53 Pave Low in the Air Force, said he was "blessed" to fly the Osprey.

The Osprey's range reduces the requirement for additional refueling. It has a combat radius of 500 nautical miles with one internal auxiliary fuel tank, according to the Air Force.

But its speed -- 200 miles per hour in some cases -- is its major selling point, said Palenske, who trained on the aircraft in 2008.

He said it makes sense to bring in smaller helicopters, depending on mission set, especially in an urban environment. But "if you want to put mass on the objective ... [the Osprey] goes twice as fast if not two-and-a-half times as fast" in comparison to its counterparts.

"I would take this thing into combat 10 times over any helicopter that's available out there," he said of the tiltrotor aircraft.
Story here. 

This appears to be a story focused on USAF Special Ops folks but I'm applying it to the entire V-22 fleet.

My problem with this? 

I don't understand the push to arm the V-22.  Quite honestly both the Air Force and Marine Corps are all over the place with their thinking when it comes to this platform.

What do I mean?

Remember the MUX for the Marine Corps?  The UAV that's suppose to provide escort for the V-22, close air support for Marines on the ground and even act as a picket for the fleet for anti-air duties?

Why take away valuable cargo lift to replace it for a gun (either belly or forward firing) if we're getting this?

Remember the news we got not too long ago about the USMC being interested in the USAF light attack program?

How about the other news from the Wing about looking for a replacement for the AH-1Z?

No rant but this doesn't make any sense!

We're seeing an uptick in procurement of aircraft with no end in sight but the ground side continues to be starved of funding.

I could easily be wrong though.  Is this simply the evolution of the airplane and other items should be taken separately or is this a case of chasing the new/flashy instead of fulfilling real needs?

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