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Look! Up In The Air! It’s…Nothing. — Why Now?
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Look! Up In The Air! It’s…Nothing.

In it’s never-ending quest to maintain its record as the most grounded aircraft to ever enter the military inventory, Susie notes that the Osprey is once again waiting for parts. This time it’s an engine problem that causes fires.

I saw my first and last Osprey back in May, and you have to look in maintenance hangars to see one these days. There are four stationed at Hurlburt Field with the 8th Special Operations Squadron, but they haven’t been doing much flying.

As Badtux has noted, the Osprey requires a computer to control the tilting of the wing. On an Osprey the “blue screen of death” is not a metaphor.


1 Badtux { 12.14.07 at 1:28 pm }

Won’t autorotate so that you can land in helicopter mode with a downed engine… can’t land in airplane mode with a downed engine… one downed engine basically means “oh shit we’re crashing!” unlike a twin-engine airplane where you can land it normally with one downed engine… uhm, yeah. There’s nothing wrong with the concept of a VSTOL aircraft capable of flying a thousand miles on a tank of JP-4 at over 250mph, as vs. eggbeaters that are lucky to managed a few hundred miles at 100mph, such an aircraft would add quite a mobility capability to the Marine’s quiver. But this is just freakin’ ridiculous. I wouldn’t get into that thing if they paid me a million dollars, it just is fundamentally unsafe. Of all the various concepts that could have been used to make a reasonable VSTOL aircraft for the Marines, it appears that they stuck a hand in the hat, pulled out one at random, and just built it regardless of whether it was a reasonable concept or not. The Maroons woulda been better off with a 10x scale Harrier jumpjet than with this albatross.

2 Bryan { 12.14.07 at 4:32 pm }

What’s wrong with the C-23 Sherpa? If you can’t find enough space to fly in and out a Sherpa, you probably need a real chopper. The C-7 Caribous landed in some gawdawful small places in Southeast Asia, and Sherpa is slightly smaller.

Consider: they didn’t fly the current squadron of Osprey to Iraq, they went by carrier. They do the same thing choppers.

The concept is nice – it’s just too complicated in the real world.

3 Badtux { 12.14.07 at 7:11 pm }

The Sherpa is hardly a panacea. With a full load, it actually needs more runway than a C-130 to take off and land. In addition its slow speed means that it has difficulty getting on and off the runway fast enough to outrun gunfire attempting to shoot it down, which is why the Sherpas currently in Iraq do not fly in and out of the Baghdad airport, it’s simply too dangerous for them to do so. The Alenia C-27, which is basically half a Herky Bird, has similar runway requirements to a C-130 when fully loaded as well as having a larger capacity and is replacing the Sherpa as a result of these flaws of the Sherpa at some point in the near future. But while the Herc and the Spartan and the Sherpa all have a role, it’s not the role of troop insertion and support. Something else needs to be used for that. The “something else”, however, decidedly *not* being the Ostrich, which is useful only for smashing its head into the ground and killing Marines.

4 Bryan { 12.14.07 at 7:39 pm }

You can buy a lot of brand new Blackhawks for the cost of one Osprey – hell, reduce the number of Blackhawks and include a 130P tanker with each purchase.

It is too tricky to maintain in combat. It’s like the original M-16, fine on the range, but the damn thing jammed in the real world. We had to clean the suckers after every flight because they were unhappy with the climate change caused by going up to 10K and then returning to earth in SEA. Combat isn’t under laboratory conditions.