Thursday, January 15, 2015

Stubby legs and tiny teeth does not a monster make

Sometimes it seems that over the last two decades we have been making every effort to make the CVN more and more vulnerable and its airwing less robust and flexible. Many of the reasons are the same as why the British Army kept the bolt action Lee-Enfield as their primary infantry weapon more than a decade longer than it should have been. 

Add a long fat tail, no armor, with only one ear and blind in one eye ... and good googly moogly, what have we done to long range strike?

At least in the knife fights in DC, unquestionably, there is no slack in light attack.

As we saw in the carrier debate last weekend, here, and many other places - over the course of the last quarter century we have thrown away one of the most effective aspects of TACAIR - its legs.

Gone are the long legs of the F-14 and A-6 - replaced by a deck full of light strike fighters with no organic tanking (sorry, buddy tanking does not count).

At the same time, we have a smaller airwing and possible opponents at sea are forcing our CVN to operate further from shore.

Everyone knows this challenge ... but we still keep making the move to shorter range, less capable assets on our most important force projection asset. Penny stupid and pound stupid.

Here we go. Take it away Sam;
The Navy is will almost certainly select the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor to replace the Northrop Grumman C-2A Greyhound as its next carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft, according to a Jan. 5 memo signed by Department of the Navy leadership.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) — signed by Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Marine Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus — will have the Navy buy four V-22s starting in Fiscal Year 2018 to 2020, according to the document first reported by Breaking Defense.

“The Navy is responsible for modifying these V-22s into an HV-22 configuration for the COD mission,” reads the document.
From David Axe's SEP13 article;
But the V-22 has less range and less payload than the C-2: Northrop’s prop plane can haul five tons of stuff 1,500 miles, but the V-22's range with the same load could be as little as 50 miles, according to Navy statistics and Bell and Boeing’s own literature. That’s in part because the V-22 has just over a third the internal space of a C-2 and in the case of bulkier supplies would likely need to haul them slung by a rope suspended from the fuselage—a huge source of drag.

War is Boring attempted to reach two different Boeing spokespeople for comment, but received no reply.

Extending the tiltrotor’s flying distance would require the constant attention of Air Force aerial tankers, which can cost up to $10,000 per hour to operate. The V-22 is also slightly slower than the C-2, can’t fly as high because it’s unpressurized and costs more: $68 million for a new V-22 compared to an estimated $50 million for a new C-2.
Some of those familiar with the aircraft are already looking at the operational issues that will come with the shoehorning of the V-22 in to the COD role. They have poor reliability, and are so temperamental that the marines who work on her call her the "princess." What will happen after we start riding them hard like we do the C-2s and start chewing up their less than reliable and very expensive prop-boxes.

Via some C-2 Bubbas - here is something that we know a CV-22 will not be able to do that we rely on being SOP today;
Up to about 6,000# load, C-2A cruised at 275-280 ktas between FL190 and FL250 and hit ~290 ktas when we were hauling the chili at 4,000# or less. Above that it dropped off quick and was 255-260 => 8,000#.
Stealing from my own stuff SEPCOR, face it; the Navy painted itself in a corner. This was almost pre-ordained when they CANX the Common
Support Aircraft. It was killed by the worst possible habits of a parochial and blinkered leadership. If you don't like this, yell at Clark, Mullen and Roughead. CSA was slowrolled until it was too late. 

A good HV-22 now will be a better CSA that may never show up I'll grant you that, but really. We should ignore the paid lobbyists and those still in uniform who wish to soon be one - and think this through.

All is not lost. There is hope;
The Navy did not comment on the MOU directly to USNI News and said the final decision would emerge until the budget submission in February.

“The Navy continues to consider acquisition strategies and options to recapitalize the carrier onboard delivery, or COD, capability by 2026,” read the statement provided to USNI News.

“Our recommended way ahead will be submitted as part of the normal budget process.”
Ummmm ... yea. In the end, we'll wind up with a HV-22 and Sailors and aircrew will do the best they can with what their Navy has given them.

We could have done better, but then again - those making the decisions are not the ones who will live or die by them.

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