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Thursday November 30, 2000

MV-22 ready for Full-Rate Production

USMC HEADQUARTERS, Washington DC, USA ( US Marine Corps Public Affairs ) - Marine Corps officials today expressed confidence that the MV-22 Osprey is ready for full-rate production, despite a recent Department of Defense report that found the tiltrotor aircraft operationally unsuitable as tested.

The Marine Corps cited 118 improvements designed to address concerns raised in the report by the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. The changes helped the Osprey earn an endorsement Nov. 8 from the Commander of the Navy's Operational Test and Evaluation Force, who found the aircraft both operationally effective and suitable and recommended it for full fleet introduction.

In its own independent assessment, the DOT&E judged the MV-22 operationally effective but not operationally suitable, primarily due to concerns over the aircraft's reliability, maintainability, availability and interoperability.

Still, the Marine Corps is confident that numerous corrective actions incorporated into the aircraft production line during and after the test and evaluation period, which ended in July, will greatly improve the MV-22's reliability, maintainability and availability.

The DOT&E report concurred with the Marine Corps' long-standing assertion that the Osprey's speed, range, payload capacity and self-deployment capability will revolutionize the Corps' ability to conduct assault-support operations.

Further, the report found that live-fire testing conducted during operational evaluation successfully demonstrated the MV-22's survivability. The report also identified characteristics that improve aircrew situational awareness, reduce exposure to threats, and enhance shipboard operations.

In addition to recognizing how the MV-22 compares favorably to the aging medium-lift aircraft it will replace - the CH-46E and CH-53D - the report made several recommendations, including further research into the aerial phenomenon known as vortex ring state and additional testing of the Osprey's shipboard compatibility.

In these areas, too, the Marine Corps points to efforts already undertaken.

Concern over vortex ring state, a potential danger to any rotorcraft, arose out of a mishap in April that killed 19 Marines. A subsequent investigation determined that a combination of human factors, including an excessive rate of descent, led to the accident. Continuing developmental and operational testing has confirmed that an MV-22 flown within its identified limits is not susceptible to vortex ring state.

To further reduce the risk associated with high rates of descent, the Deputy Commandant for Aviation, LtGen. Fred McCorkle, has asked the Naval Aviation Systems Command to pursue development of an early warning system that would alert air crew to the flight conditions that induce vortex ring state.

Operational evaluation also successfully demonstrated that the Osprey met or exceeded all key performance parameters, including shipboard compatibility in the conduct of large-scale amphibious assault operations.

Most significantly, the MV-22 achieved twice the speed, five times the range and triple the payload capability of the CH-46E.

Such enhancements, according to the DOT&E report, "provide a major step ahead in tactical flexibility."

The next step for the Osprey program is full-rate production. A decision on whether to proceed is expected in December.

  • News: MV-22 deemed suitable for Shipboard Operations
  • News: MV-22 declared operational over land
  • V-22 Osprey page
  • Bell timeline
  • Boeing timeline