MV-22 Ospreys: Not helpful at home?

by Craig Hooper on January 3, 2010

Can the MV-22 Osprey help at home? Read my latest piece over at the North Country Times/The Californian.

Some lessons here: First, where’s the utility? Notice how the Marine Corps has been trying to change the program narrative?  By saying that the MV-22 should no longer be considered a replacement for CH-46 helicopters–but approached as an entirely different kind of platform? In short, something that must no longer be thought of as a one-for-one substitute for legacy choppers?  Well, the Osprey was sold as a widely utilizable, do-anything platform.  But now, with the MV-22, the Marines seem to be buying a touchy Ferrari when they really need a bunch of cheap, reliable Ford pickups.  

Second, how much work went into broad-based systems engineering?  Whomever was in charge of integrating the Osprey into the support/shipboard/basing in

frastructures really didn’t do a good job. (And as the weight of the MV-22 Block C versions goes up, the challenge of handling shipboard operations, coalition operations and reduced cargo margins are going to grow…no matter how much tech DARPA tries to throw at this, the integration challenge will get harder and harder to solve.) 

Third, security is won both at home and abroad.  Like it or not, military tools, on occasion, need to be utilized at home, in support of civilians.  If MV-22s are unable to help build security here at home, then we’re shaving at an already razor-thin margin of security afforded by bankrupt municipalities and fiscally-stretched states.

And finally, why is the Osprey program still indulging in gaming the program data?  Marine Corps Aviation leadership really should be far beyond such silly statistical legerdemain.

Somebody needs to take this program in hand, shake out the bitter-enders managing it, and engage in good, honest civic debate.  There is a case for a special, high-end, niche-mission Osprey (Hey CV-22 managers, Boeing is calling…), but playing an un-American game of “hide-the-civic-salami” isn’t the way to go about making it.  

Personally, I fear something is culturally amiss with the Marine Osprey program.  The Pentagon’s civilian leadership must step up and start taking active steps to change it.


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