Ready for Primetime? Part Four

30.04.07

Categorie: Air |

One of the greatest advantages of the Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor over existing aircraft is one that many critics might dismiss as irrelevant: because it can tilt its rotors to provide forward propulsion, the Osprey can taxi, unlike conventional choppers, which have to be dragged around the flight decks of amphibious ships. ”It seems a minor point,” admits Colonel Glenn Walters, one of the Marines’ most experienced V-22 pilots. But he says that taxiing translates into faster and more flexible launches of larger groups of aircraft.

Marine Corps air assaults are among the most delicate and complicated of military operations due the variety and limitations of the aircraft involved and because amphibs are pretty small, as far as runways go. ”There’s only a certain amount of territory available in terms of the deck: we normally use just six spots” for helicopters, Walters explains. And since choppers can’t maneuver themselves into these spots, tractors must move them into position — and in the right order.  

Typically the armed AH-1W Cobras and the scout UH-1N Hueys take off first. They orbit the amphibious ship while the cargo choppers — the CH-53E Super Stallions — are carefully towed into place then launched. Next come the troop carrier CH-46E Sea Knights. By the time the -46s are in the air, the short-range Cobras and Hueys are out of gas, so they have to land, get refueled then take off again to rejoin the transports, which by this point have all burned off much of their own gas. “For 35 years, we’ve been doing this intricate dance that’s got no room for error.” Any screwup might scrub the entire assault.

The Osprey changes all that. Pilots can maneuver their own V-22s around the deck, lining up nose-to-tail, making better use of limited space — and faster. “During operational evaluation [of the V-22], even though we had only six spots, we took off ten aircraft,” Walters recalls. ”You line ‘em up and sling ’em off with a short roll.”

Says Walters, “The ability to maneuver an aircraft around on its own power is a huge advantage.” Plus, the V-22′s greater endurance owing to its large fuel tanks (“You can stuff more gas in that thing than the guys in the cockpit can stand!”) means more flexibility for planners trying to piece together the elements of an air assault. The Ospreys can take off early and orbit, potentially for hours, while the rest of the aircraft await their turns with the tractors.

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7 Responses to “Ready for Primetime? Part Four”

  1. Nicholas Weaver says:

    Then a stupid question: What would happen if you just put a high-torque electric motor in the nosewheel of a helecopter and a disconnect on the turbine shaft to the helecopter? (I’m assuming there is already a nontrivial power generation capabilit off the turbine shaft.)

    It does seem a big advantage, but couldn’t a little tweaking in helecopter design do the same thing?

  2. Grandjester says:

    Of course the Ospreys are buring gas during taxi too. Cripes David, you are really f’ing stretching on this one. Does it have more cup holders than a Sea Stallion too?

  3. David Axe says:

    Grandjester,

    Taxiing is like idling in a car. It does not burn much gas. And the Osprey doesn’t taxi for miles. It moves just a few yards: that’s all it takes to make a huge difference on the deck of an amphib. And I am not stretching. I am just trying to counter the ignorant, knee-jerk hatred of the Osprey that most reporters harbor.

  4. Grandjester says:

    David,

    Look up recent comments by Sir Richard Branson on the amount of fuel used by airliners during taxi (I know, different animal, but bear with me here), I was kind of surprised by how much fuel could be saved and the reduction of pollutants as well. Idling cars have been tagged as well as being fuel wasters/pollution generators.

    Yes, you are stretching, very minor point of dubious value just comes across as another attempt to justify this turkey. Sorry.

  5. [...] Der V-22 Ospray kann um die 10′000 kg transportieren und liegt somit im Bereich des CH-46E „Sea Knight“ und ist doppelt so leistungsfähig wie die CH-53 „Sea Stallion“. Der grösste Vorteil liegt jedoch in der hohen Reisegeschwindigkeit (396 km/h) und damit auch in der Reichweite (4′293 km bei der Überführung, operativ ca. 1′182 km). Zum Vergleich erreicht die CH-46E ca. 248 km/h, die Reichweite für die Überführung beträgt nur 676km, operativ gar nur 296 km. Die CH-53 ist ungefähr gleich schnell wie die CH-46E schnell und kann für die Überführung ca. 1000 km zurücklegen. Der V-22 kann so zusammengefaltet werden, dass es beispielsweise auf einem Flugzeugträger ein Minimum an Platz benötigt (siehe Bild oben links). Als Nachteil sprechen das hohe Leergewicht (15′032 kg), der hohe Preis (ca. 5 Mal so teuer wie der CH-46E) und die komplexe Technologie. Es scheint auch, dass der V-22 nicht ganz einfach zu fliegen ist, denn in seiner Erprobungsphase gab es einige Unfälle zu verzeichnen. [...]

  6. Guy1 says:

    The 46 & 53s can taxi as well they are towed on ships because their blades are folded for storage, exactly the same way the 22 will be folded then towed unfolded and start on the spot.

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