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The Peoples' Site (Osprey Edition)

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The Peoples' Site! is the DT feature where periodically (when we feel like it) we highlight the best comments from our comments forums. And no entry generated more passion recently than "The Commandant Says 'There is Going to be a Crash.'" Resultantly, we're dedicating this edition of The Peoples' Site to Marine Corps Major Tony "Buddy" Bianca.

Buddy has been an Osprey driver for some years, so his two cents merits more than a little attention. Some additional background: I was a Tomcat RIO (like "Goose" in the movie "Topgun") and retired at the rank of commander after 20 years in the Navy. And I wrote a handful of novels about military topics. I was also the PAO for the V-22 program at NAVAIR for three years after I retired (before I assumed the editor job at Military.com). Knowing that, Buddy's ad hominem attacks will make more sense. Anyway, here's his response to my post:

Im curious to know what question the Commandant was answering when this quote was captured. Or are we led to believe that he called you all to breakfast just to strike up a conversation and tell V22s were going to crash?

Along those lines, why havent any other service chiefs invited you to breakfast and announced that there wont be any crashes of any JSF or H60s or any other aircraft in the other services? Besides, your explanations about why Opsreys will crash arent well thought out. You do know a little about the program, but your information is old, and you obviously dont know anything about the aircraft. Any aircraft is going to suffer losses like you described. Anyone with actual operational experience knows that. As for your nugget comment, weve been training Lts right out of flight school for over a year. There are more than a couple out there in the fleet doing nugget things as we blog.

Your description about HROD has a lot of conjecture and a smattering of truth in it. The V22 VRS envelope is significantly smaller than any other rotorcraft out there. To make sure everybody understands that, it means it is harder to get a V22 into VRS than a regular helicopter. Heres what you dont talk about in your HROD paragraph: VRS is a function of both forward airspeed and rate of descent. When the guys got the inadvertent entry you describe, they were putt-putting along setting up for the data point they were slow to begin with, so the idea that it will surprise some nugget is a little far-fetched. No nugget goes hunting for datapoints on test plan designed to answer congress and not the operational user. Goodness gracious, we dont hawk the VSI, neither do our students, and we dont get the SINK RATE warning. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed your reply where you said to take the aircraft to a 1000 ft hover and then smoothly pull the TCL to idle! Cripes! How about you fly your F14 to 1.1 Vstall in a turn then slowly pull the stick all the way back that would probably be just as stupid. Oh, thats right, you didnt have a stick in the back of an F14. But I digress, you said it would lose 500 ft in the time it takes to move the nacelles? Maybe if youre currently in a fully developed VRS state and suffering from some kind of time-space continuum warp in the fabric of reality.

I would like to counter your predictions with one of my own: There wont be a VRS mishap in V22s for many, many years, if ever. We all know what happened in Marana (some of us better than any investigator, if you take my meaning) and we all had a lot of beer and agreed not to do that again.

Im curious, do you know how many times and how far V22 have flown single engine? Forget about the run-stand down in Ft Worth, Im talking about actually flying the aircraft with only one engine? Do you know? Ill bet credits to navy beans you dont.

And bullets dont bounce off of composite fuselage? Really? What assault support platform do we have that bullets do bounce off of? Im also curious to know how the ballistics of composites fair against sheet aluminum on all the current airframes. Just assuming the ground fire is coming from the ground, will not the projectile path travel through the sponson to get into the cabin? Even with the forward velocity of the aircraft taken into account? Or are the shooters just going to aim for headshots on all the Marines in back as the V22 steaks by at 220 kts?

Now this is a little off topic, but I have to bring it up. yeah, well it has to slow down to land. Youre absolutely right. And let me assure these readers that no hovering machine in the world can slow down to land or accelerate out of the zone like the V22. Not even a single engine huey with the twist grip rolled off . . . Nothing carrying more than 5 pax anyway. Maybe a little bird could, but I dont see the Marines turning in 1 V22 and checking out 6 MD500s . . .

Yes, the supply side of V22 is behind. But remember from when you worked in the program office, material support date is October of 2008thats what you guys programmed, I guess they just didnt tell the PAO . . . Wonder why? Might have something to do with the war were waging at the moment.

The other another maintenance issue you described is going to happen. Its also going to happen to every aircraft we build until we become omniscient with structures. Yes, the JSF and the EH101 will have structure issues because we cant predict everythingshould we call the service chiefs and invite them to breakfast? Maybe theyll say something else!? Rest assured well maintain the hydraulics with titanium tubing and 5000 psi. Ive got some really good airframers who would like to address your challenge if you get the chance to come down to New River.

What the hell do you mean Osprey doesnt fit on an amphib? Umm . . . then I must have false memories. No . . . Im certain . . . I took a picture of it. Not just once, not just one ship, over 5 of them. I got lots of pictures. Just the same, my pictures - theyre really cool Polaroids just like Goose took of the Mig in the movie . . . You know, Goose, the non-flying officers hero in Top Gun? Anyway, make sure you call those NAVSEA engineers and tell them you vote no confidence in their ability to the deck heating problem. I wonder what weve been doing when we go out to train on the ship now, since we dont "fit" on an amphib like you said. Last question on this subject, how many days you have at sea on an amphib?

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Wow, this just drags on and on, doesnt it?

It sounds like you know all about allocation of forces, too. You know, how the MEF provides forces to the COCOMs . . . Are you sure you werent the PAO for HQMC? Bah, now Im getting too sarcastic . . . Youre [sic} statements of where we put the aircraft dont have anything to do with our belief its a kick ass airplane. For example, "Lets keep it simple"? Are you nuts? How about, lets think about what forces the Marine Corps needs to provide, and what METLs those forces have to be capable of in a joint theatre before we decide where to send our units. Consider that and then tell us how we should deploy the Marines and their equipment to the warfighting COs. Be sure to come back and tell us we dont believe the Osprey will make it just because we dont send it to MNW in Iraq.

BTW, Mongo is better than any Turkey driver you know, and didnt expect to see his name put out there like it was some kind of endorsement for your errant points here. Neither did Jim. And Schnieder is a GySgt now, so you owe him 50 pushups for trying to demote him in your replies.

Last of all, does your current employer know youre just a mouthpiece as PAO? Does he or she have your resume and know as soon as you get a different job youre going to change your opinion, champion a different cause, then offer pitiful attempts to make yourself feel better by saying you "respect" all the V22 pilots and maintainers out there by quoting names that resolutely disagree with you? Go back to writing fictional books and being a mouthpiece for someone else. You dont speak for V22, or those of us who see the long term investment objective to ensure we can out-maneuver any other fighting force in the world. The world is changing, 4th generation warfare is here, and you can decide how much you want to spend to ensure that America wins every timeand not just win while protecting themselves, but win while ensuring minimum loss of life of non-combatants by winning quickly and decisively. . . or you can hang our with Chris and criticize others with conjecture and a background that only impresses the uninformed, all the while referencing POM dollars like they are the lives of those whos bled out because we couldnt get to them in time.

In the words of naval aviation, take it around, youre [sic] signal is divert."

And finally (whew!) I dont believe the Commandant brought up, I believe you and your "amigo" did.

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Damn. Color me bitch-slapped, absolutely. To be clear, I didn't intend to imply that Mongo agreed with me by complimenting him in the original post. My crime here is I truly respect him as a pilot and a leader. I also wasn't trying to demote Gunny Schneider. I was referring to a time when he was, in fact, a staff sergeant. But whatever. One thing's for sure: Regardless of the airplane's issues, with Marines like Buddy Bianca on the case, the Osprey just might succeed. And if it fails, it won't be without a fight.

-- Ward

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