Saturday, November 26, 2011

Understanding Why the MV-22 Osprey Should NOT Be One of the DOD Budget Cuts

In light of several blog postings mentioning the MV-22 Osprey and its consideration in DOD budget cuts, I thought it was important to include a piece elaborating on the expeditionary mission of the MV-22 Osprey and its current and future importance. In order to fully appreciate why the MV-22 Osprey is NOT just another expensive DOD system that the U.S. military doesn’t need, we have to pull ourselves away from political discourse, popular media articles written by biased or lazy journalists, and focus first on the overall mission of the MV-22 Osprey. The Osprey is used in support of all services with the Navy/Marine Corps and Air Force being its biggest supporters. Those that critique its existence or mission fail to appreciate the mission of the United States Marine Corps and its expeditionary use. Many - even some Marines - from communities not acquainted with air-ground operations – either haven’t been made aware of or simply do not appreciate the self-sufficiency of the Navy and Marine Corps to perform its own air-ground operations.

America needs an expeditionary force in readiness that is prepared to respond to any crisis. With the US being a Nation with global responsibilities – it requires ready, sea-based forces organized, trained and equipped to conduct operations in the littorals – from humanitarian assistance to major combat operations. Yes, this sounds like an advertisement for the United States Marine Corps, but the United States Marine Corps is this force in readiness and the Osprey is ideally suited for these wide ranging missions.

The Osprey is designed for the Ship-to-Shore assault mission to support the Marine Air-Ground-Task Force operations to support maneuver, operations ashore, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel and amphibious evacuation. It is one of the only aircraft built to perform numerous missions thus replacing several aging aircraft CH-46E, CH-53D and even lessening the burden of troop and support maneuver tasks to the Marine Corps’s KC-130s. It is the first wholly composite aircraft ever built for the military – ca. 90 percent is plastic (which eases manufacturing and permits easier and cheaper repair of battle damaged panels –plus it has digital data bus with fly-by wire controls. In addition, it is impressively configured with various weapons systems, external store attach points and a refueling probe – AND with its blade construction the aircraft is incredibly quiet compared to helicopters- An important feature in the battlefield!

With the global population moving towards littorals – future conflict may require increased use of Naval operations– both humanitarian and warfare operations. For example, recent operations in Libya proved that conflict can arise suddenly and require swift deployment of military assets in other areas of the globe. To date, the Osprey has performed missions in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM(Afghanistan), OPERATION ODYSSEY DAWN (Libya), OPERATION UNIFIED RESPONSE (Haiti), Humanitarian Relief for SOUTHCOM as well as other amphibious operations for Marine Expeditionary Units. Critiques of the aircraft remain focused on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and fail to include other operations or fail to appreciate how future operations are forecasted to occur.

So this aircraft may have had an incredibly rough “go” during its test period, but what platform hasn’t? The major takeaway is that this aircraft can haul troops and cargo twice as fast and can carry three times as much, and goes six times farther than the CH-46E and CH-53D, it has performed MEDEVAC and SAR missions, can protect itself in a battlefield environment and do close air support (CAS) when needed. It is incredible bang for buck –considering all that it replaces. Can’t say that about too many other aerial systems.

All services have proven their ability to “adapt and overcome” in order to prove their worth in whatever the current conflict may be. Herein lies the “beauty” of the minds who took the time to design an expeditionary aircraft that doesn’t JUST bomb something or doesn’t JUST transport troops and items from point A to B. Instead the MV-22 is designed with the intent of not only meeting the “Ship-to-Shore” mission of the Marine Corps, but is able to be employed for a wide range missions across ALL military services in an ever changing battlefield environment at an affordable cost.


TheDude said...

I am glad to see this post. The MV-22 and the Air Force variant CV-22 offer the warfighter increased capability over the aircraft it is intended to replace. USAF Special Operations uses the craft for insertion of SOF forces. This aircraft is amazingly quiet and very fast in comparison to the helicopters previously used for these missions. In the SOF world stealth is paramount and this airframe provides stealth and reach. If the government wants to save money, they need to think about speeding up delivery of more V-22s, decommissioning their helicopter predecessors, and selling the copters to our allies.

Geff Purcell said...

I agree with this article and what TheDude said in his comments. My son is an MV-22 flight line mechanic in the Marine Corp. The press continues to give this aircraft bad coverage based on things that happened years ago. If I was flying into combat I would want to be in an MV-22 because of speed and stealth. We stayed out on Top Sail Beach, NC just a few miles from New River Air Station. Helicopters and MV-22s routinely train by flying down the river to the sea and make a turn to follow the beach. We could hear the helis for 10 minutes before every seeing them, but the MV-22s would be almost right over us before we knew they were there and they are fast.