Thursday, April 28, 2016

MV-22 Multi-Spectral Sensor

I really do not understand the thinking behind many of the new weapon and sensor systems.  The latest is a sensor addition to the Marine’s MV-22 as explained in a Flightglobal website article (1).  US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has issued a request to industry for an 18-inch gimbaled multispectral sensor that can be lowered from the MV-22’s cargo hold well.  The new sensors will give the aircraft the ability to target enemies from afar and provide similar situational awareness and precision targeting capabilities as the MQ-9 Predator UAV.   It’s unclear whether this will impact the available cargo space or not, so that’s one concern.

The other concern is under what circumstance does this sensor and capability make sense?  Are the Marines trying to create their own Predator?  Are we really going to risk our most valuable general purpose aircraft (according to the Marines, not me!) performing high risk battlefield surveillance?  Isn’t mitigating that risk exactly why we’ve developed the Predator?  What’s the thinking, here?

I note that the Predator is intended to fly quite high while the MV-22 is limited to under 10,000 ft, if I remember correctly.  That means the area it can cover is quite limited and the danger from the proximity to all manner of anti-air weapons is quite severe.  The aircraft will have limited survivability.  Why are we doing this?

The MV-22 is already equipped with an APQ-174 multi-mode radar and AAQ-27 forward-looking infrared turret so what does this extra sensor gain us?

I’m completely missing the tactical usefulness of this.  It seems like we so often develop and tack technology onto platforms just because we can rather than because it will serve a useful purpose.

Is this just more floundering around trying to come up with uses for an otherwise limited usefulness aircraft?

Feel free to take a shot at explaining this because I have no explanation!


(1) Flightglobal website, “DOD explores multispectral sensor options for V-22 Osprey”, James Drew, 25-Apr-2016,


  1. Its not that I don't find this article interesting, it is.

    I'm just stumped by your challenge.

    Seems everyone else is too ?

    organic heavy ISTAR off Gators is the obvious conclusion. But this seems a bit silly.

    Are they about to strap Hellfire to a V22 ? that should be hillarious in a horrible horrible way. Given blade orientation in "plane mode" and the nasty vortex\fall out of the sky situation of transitioning too fast.

    Excalibur N5 with SAL guidance NGS ? naaar

    Blackjack UAV has a lot of these capabilities including laser designator.

    It just feels like someone got bored and had some budget they needed to use up before the year end doesn't it ?

    There are certainly some other projects in other arms of the US Military that could have used that cash better I have to conclude.

    But maybe im missing some genious usage that Im too short sighted to see ?

  2. What ever happened to the manufacturers being the ones to pay for and develop these 'might be useful' projects.

    1. Depends who asks for it.
      Sometimes a private company thinks, "I bet if I make this, someone will buy it", but sometimes a business doesnt think that, and a military has to pay them to see what happens.

  3. This is completely speculative on my part, I havent done the numbers.

    If anyone watched Battle Star Galactica (Yes, I know, its a tv show, but bear with me).
    In the show, a fighter (Viper) wing, would be escorted by a Raptor, which was a sort of AWACS, ECM, ECCM support craft. I always thought it was a pretty clever idea.

    Sitting somewhere between a growler and a hawkeye?

    I was wondering if they were being considered as buddy tankers, but dont know what the carrier launch weight of the Hornet ect are.

    1. I'm not completely clear on what, if anything, you're suggesting. I think you're suggesting a combination aircraft that would accompany a strike. While appealing, the reality is that such an aircraft would represent an overwhelmingly attractive target to an enemy and would have a life expectancy of zero unless it stood so far off from the strike that it would be what we have now.

      Further, the size of an aircraft that combines giant AWACS radars, computers, operator stations, electronics, ECM electronics/emitters/pods, and fuel tankerage would be enormous and hideously expensive.


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