War Is Boring website posted an article a few years ago about the MV-22 that I managed to miss which is a shame because it offered some insights into the MV-22. (1)
The author’s main point is that people want to view the MV-22 as a one for one replacement for the CH-46 and, therefore, compare it to the CH-46 and this is not the correct way to look at it. Here’s the author’s perspective,
“…the Osprey didn’t replace the CH-46—it displaced the CH-46. The older copter made way for an entirely new type of aircraft, not another helicopter.”
Thus, says the author, to compare the MV-22 to the CH-46 on an exact one for one capability and performance basis is inappropriate. Here’s an example from the article,
“To argue that an V-22 is junk because it doesn’t loiter like a CH-46 is to assume that the V-22 is a helicopter and should loiter like one.”
“…the Osprey’s fragility and susceptibility to heat are notable weaknesses. … It’s not a helicopter. It’s a tilt-rotor aircraft. It should act accordingly. … To prevent overheating, Osprey pilots avoid helicopter mode. They quickly transition to plane mode and move around their objective.”
This is a potentially insightful way to look at, and evaluate, the MV-22 or any new and different platform. If it can accomplish the mission, just in a different way, then a direct point for point comparison is invalid and misleading.
Note: The point of this post is not to evaluate the MV-22, it’s to note the author’s point about how to evaluate a new and different platform.
The author also goes on to acknowledge that there are missions and tasks that the MV-22 simply can’t do that the CH-46 can, and vice versa. He also makes an interesting point about the combination of the MV-22 and the UH-1Y being able to fill all the needed missions.
The author’s point about not evaluating new and, especially, different platforms on a direct point for point basis comparison with the platform they are “replacing” is an excellent one and is my takeaway from the article. I’ll attempt to factor that approach into my future assessments of platforms. The LCS, for example, is not a Perry FFG and should be evaluated on its own merits rather than directly compared to the Perry. Now, that doesn’t mean that the LCS is suddenly a good platform – it just means that there is a better assessment methodology. That assessment may still reveal a substandard platform!
The F-35 is another example. So many people want to compare the F-35’s air to air combat capability directly to an F-16/15/18 and that may not be appropriate. F-35 supporters claim that the aircraft will perform air to air quite effectively, just in a different way. If it can, that’s fine. If it can’t, then it’s a failure. Of course, there are other factors like cost, maintenance, reliability, availability, etc. that can render the aircraft a failure irrespective of any given mission/task performance.
The other takeaway from the article is the author’s more realistic “specs” for the MV-22. He notes, for example, that the troop carrying capacity is not the commonly cited 24 but rather 18 or less under actual field conditions. Similarly, he notes that the CH-46 never carried more than 12 troops, despite theoretical claims.
The author also notes that the MV-22’s range with a load of troops is around 233 miles on a single tank. Compare that to some of the range figures floating around the Internet.
- Navy Fact File: 860 nm (unstated fuel load) (2)
- Air Force Fact Sheet for CV-22: 500 (one internal auxiliary fuel tank) (3)
- Aviation Zone: 2100 nm (unstated but obviously with max internal fuel tanks) (4)
- Global Security: 251 nm (24 troops; unstated fuel load) (5)
- Boeing Website: 428 nm (24 troops, unstated fuel load) (6)
That’s quite a range (sorry about that!) of ranges! It appears that 200 nm is about the actual field range. Interesting. I have no idea how that compares to the CH-46 actual field range with a load of troops. The wide range of ranges further illustrates the points made in the recent post about combat radius (see, “CombatRadius”)
The article was fascinating and I encourage you to follow the link and read it for yourself. There was a lot more to it. It was one of the more balanced articles I’ve seen on the MV-22.
(1)War Is Boring website, “Actually, The V-22 Ain’t Half Bad”, Vincent Mazzurco,