Wednesday, September 19, 2018

MV-22's forever?

via Fox News.
The Marine Corps is accelerating a massive modernization and readiness overhaul of its MV-22 Osprey to upgrade sensors, add weapons, sustain the fleet and broaden the mission scope -- as part of an effort to extend the life of the aircraft to 2060.

While first emerging nearly two decades ago, the Osprey tiltrotor aircraft has seen an unprecedented uptick in deployments, mission scope and operational tempo.

As a result, Corps developers explain that the aircraft has, to a large extent, had trouble keeping pace with needed modernization and readiness enhancements. This challenge has been greatly exacerbated by a major increase in Combatant Commander requests for Ospreys, particularly since 2007, Corps officials say.

“The quality of maintenance training curricula, maturation, and standardization has not kept pace with readiness requirements. Current maintenance manning levels are unable to support demands for labor The current V-22 sustainment system cannot realize improved and sustained aircraft readiness / availability without significant change,” the Corps writes in its 2018 Marine Aviation Plan published earlier this year. “Depot-level maintenance cannot keep up with demand.

Given this scenario, the Corps is implementing key provisions of its Common Configuration, Readiness and Modernization (CC-RAM) Plan which, according to a Marine Corps spokesperson, is “designed to achieve a common configuration and improve readiness to a minimum of 75-percent mission capable rate across the fleet.”

Corps officials said the idea with Osprey modernization and sustainment is to build upon the lift, speed and versatility of the aircraft’s tiltrotor technology and give the platform more performance characteristics in the future. This includes arming the Osprey with rockets, missiles or some kind of new weapons capability to support its escort mission in hostile or high-threat environments.
Story here. 

How do we read between the lines on this one?

Not really sure.

I have an issue with arming a transport with offensive weapons.  Why?  Because it decreases the number of Marines, beans or bullets that can be brought forward.  Add in the latest electronics, and of course ARMOR to help the bird take a hit or two and we might be down to transporting only one squad aboard our medium helicopter!

But put that aside.

Why would officials today make such a pronouncement?  Why would they declare for future leaders that today's tilt rotor will fly till 2060?  The CH-46 had an incredibly long service life but its successor had been planned for many years before it retired.  The CH-53A-D could even be said to have been even more capable but no pronouncements were made with its service life either.

Quite honestly the idea of officials stating how long a particular piece of gear will remain in the inventory is something entirely new.  We haven't seen that done before (in the Marine Corps...the USAF has always had silly season with that kind of thing...not even the Navy that have long serving ships do this type thing!).

I think we're looking at a mess that needs to be fixed and justification for the cost is being rolled out.

I don't have a problem with the work.  The fleet needs to be rationalized.  I get that.  What irks (if I'm right) is the propaganda.  We don't need sensationalism, chest thumping and statements that aren't supportable.

The public deserves some hardcore honesty from it's Marines.

How about this.

We rapidly procured MV-22's to sustain the line and to try and drive down costs.  Modifications were made while it was in production and now we need to get them to the same standard.  The effort will cost X amount of dollars but we believe it will be a more effective airplane and could possibly save the taxpayer money and more importantly Marine lives on future battlefield.  We don't know how long this thing will serve but we've got to get our aviation house in order and this is one of the steps along the way.

Is that so hard HQMC?

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