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,