In 2007 three U.S. military officers suggested that the Osprey is not the most appropriate aircraft for the Marine Corps

In 2007 three U.S. military officers suggested that the Osprey is not the most appropriate aircraft for the Marine Corps

Officers of the Marine Corps and other arms of the U.S. military concluded in their report that the MV-22 Osprey is not the best choice of aircraft for the Marine Corps.


July 15, 2012 Hideki Matsudo of Ryukyu Shimpo reports from Washington D.C.

Objections have arisen within the U.S. military with regard to the introduction of MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft. In 2007, officers enrolled at the Naval Postgraduate School in California published an MBA report entitled “Tilt-Rotor or Helicopter?” The authors questioned the Osprey aircraft’s flying capabilities in comparison to those of the EH-101 helicopters in terms of cost-performance and cost-effectiveness, and concluded that the Osprey is not the “best” option to meet the Marine Corps’ medium-lift aviation needs.

The co-authors of this report are Stuart Day, a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy, Karl Stoetzer, a major in the Marine Corps and Roel Zamora, an air force major. The project was designed to evaluate whether or not the Osprey is the best choice of aircraft to meet the Marine Corps’ medium-lift assault support needs, and its goal was to base the evaluation on unbiased research using the methods and techniques learned in the Naval Postgraduate School’s MBA core curriculum.

With regard to the deployment to Okinawa of Osprey aircraft, Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba said that compared with the current CH-46 helicopter, “The Osprey aircraft is superior, with twice the speed, three times the payload and four times the radius range. It can increase the capability for deterrence.” The Japanese government believes that the deployment of the Osprey aircraft helps to increase U.S. military power as a deterrent to the growing threat of China and North Korea. The Ministry of Defense has created a map indicating that the Senkaku Islands (also known as the Diaoyu Islands), Taiwan, and China are within the flight range of the Osprey aircraft. However, this map may mislead people to think that the aircraft may fly directly from Okinawa to neighboring countries.

While the three co-authors acknowledge the Osprey’s superior speed, they estimate that its range advantage over helicopters is minimal because most missions flown are in close proximity to the main operating base. Referring to accidents during previous flights, the aircraft’s de-icing system was shown to be inadequate, resulting in an emergency landing. The report indicated that rather than taking advantage of the MV-22’s long-range self-deployment capability, the Marine Corps has chosen to ferry them over on U.S. Navy multipurpose amphibious assault ship to avoid dangerous icing conditions.

However, the report made it clear that the MV-22’s range advantage has not been utilized and that it relied on amphibious assault ships.

The officers sent to study at the Naval Postgraduate School carried out their evaluation based on a comparative analysis of the MV-22 Osprey and the EH-101 helicopter using data on mobility, survivability, reliability and procurement cost. The report indicated that the MV-22’s advantage in speed is of minimal value. The EH-101 has similar troop and cargo carrying capacities. The aircraft is also a good choice because it is already flown by military organizations around the world, including the Canadians, Italians, and Britain’s Royal Air Force. The EH-101 was selected to fulfill the Presidential Support mission as “Marine One”- but the contract was eventually canceled as opposition grew over significant cost overruns. The three co-authors indicated that the MV-22’s advantage in speed is counterbalanced by the reliability and maintainability advantages of the EH-101 and concluded that the MV-22 Osprey is not the best choice of aircraft to meet the Marine Corps’ medium-lift assault support needs.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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