Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cool New Helicopter Concept

by SandWyrm

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Here's a much less silly video on a future aircraft concept. The all-but-admitted failure of the Marine Corps' V-22 Osprey is opening up an opportunity for new innovations on the Army side of things. This one is a leading contender. It has a lower top speed than the Osprey, but much greater lift capacity, more room, more safety, half the cost, much less maintenance, and the ability to land on a carrier deck without literally blowing people over the side. Or melting the deck itself with its downward-pointing exhaust plume.

Check it out.

Edit: Although we have seen something like this proposed before...

11 comments:

  1. The all but admitted failure? I am deployed with a Marine Expeditionary Unit right now and the Osprey is the center of all of our success. Furthermore, the Army is constantly trying to use our aircraft to push their forces around because nothing exists that can move their people as fast, as reliably. As far as landing on a carrier? I have had plenty of experience on a LHD and even the tiny deck of an LPD without ever being blown off. I was a huge critic before I was exposed to the aircraft 8 years ago. As far as this aircraft in the video. I hope it is this good, but really anything that sounds this great, is likely too good to be true, especially coming from the defense industry in the early phases of a prototype.

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  2. Well, I've seen videos of an Osprey blowing over bystanders (head over heels) on a landing approach.

    This USNI link shows that operating the V-22 and F-35 off of Amphibious Carriers hasn't been easy due to heat issues...

    http://news.usni.org/2014/01/15/sna-2014-heat-f-35-mv-22-continue-plague-big-deck-amphibs?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sna-2014-heat-f-35-mv-22-continue-plague-big-deck-amphibs

    The cost overruns and maintenance issues are well known. As are the high number of crashes. Particularly in ops at or above 6000 feet.

    Armament is still an issue, because there is no weight margin to spare. For the same reason the Osprey is almost completely unarmored, with a plastic fuselage that can't stop small arms fire.

    So... In perfect weather, at perfect altitudes, with perfect piloting, with perfect maintenance, and operated away from the enemy's positions, the V-22 may be all you say. But if it were truly a major success story, wouldn't the Army be clamoring to buy some? Or other NATO countries? The Brits have 2 shiny new aircraft carriers with no F-35s to fly off of them. Wouldn't a few V-22's be just the sort of thing they need?

    I have my doubts. Looks pretty though.

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  3. If you think the V-22 is bad look at what they did to those poor carriers! I really doubt they could even afford V-22s at this point after all the money they blew on this and other mismanaged naval upgrades. BAE had a hand in it though so maybe that says it all. At least the V-22's problems are being fixed.

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    1. The height of stupidity was Britain selling off its Harriers to the US before having a replacement (the F-35) on hand. Now, with all the F-35's delays, and the real possibility of its cancellation after a recent runway fire, they have nothing to fly off of those carriers at all.

      So they either 1) Twiddle thumbs and wait, 2) Go with a ski-jump approved non-VTOL plane like the Super Hornet, or 3) Modify the carriers to use catapults and buy some European planes for them.

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    2. Adding catapults would cost almost as much as the carrier. That railgun tech is absurdly expensive and the company making it wanted the RN to help foot the bill for the R&D. Maybe once it's made they can do a deal down the line and get it for cheaper.

      I think the best idea would be to go back to an old idea and navalise the Typhoon. It's as good or better than the F-35 in most roles and it's proven tech. It would give the fleet better dogfighting and long-range strike capability.

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    3. They could use old-fashioned steam catapults rather than the newer electromag tech. The RN had decided to do it, but then reversed themselves.

      Navalizing the Eurofighter would be pretty expensive compared to just buying some Super-Hornets. They're already ski-ramp rated, and have an absurdly short take-off distance already. The newest versions have electronic warfare and networking capabilities that match or exceed the F-35.

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    4. I think there's an issue using steam because the ships aren't nuclear and struggle to generate enough steam to fire off the air wing quickly.

      AFAIK all the western made short takeoff planes are theoretical, including the Super-Hornet. I tried to find links but the list of problems that came up pretty much put me off STOBAR completely.

      I think the railgun catapult is the only viable option for the future. It unlocks the next generation of air-drones the US is working on which need assisted launch. Plus assisted launched planes are just better to begin with.

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  4. You couch generals can point to links all you want I am actually serving on amphibious carriers WITH V-22s and I can tell you, we haven't fouled the decks, have no deck issues and we have flown people all over the world from here in multiple climes, temperatures and conditions. Screw first hand experience though, let's go with the internet because sources on the Web have never been biased or used things out of context to gather others to their opinion. Did you put boots on the ground in Iraq? Did you see what the 22 did for us when suddenly we could rapidly be anywhere? No? Are you on an amphibious assault ship? No? Oh well, you can cite your sources, so I guess you MUST be right.

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    1. These big projects are political targets whether they work or not. It's hard for us civilians to know the difference. The real problem is that defense companies gamed the procurement system so well. They spread the contracts over enough congressional districts that they can hold re-elections campaigns as hostages. It just leads to every single defense project getting it's budget raised by orders of magnitude.

      I don't doubt you that the V-22 turned out OK in the end. But we only see the headlines about the crashes and the cost. We see stories about the F-22 poisoning it's pilots, F-35 tail hooks snapping off, and cracks in the Littoral Combat Ship's hull and we have to wonder what the hell we're paying for. About the only thing we hear good news about is some older platform like the A-10 still kicking ass or Drones. (Drones, man, they must have a good PR guy.)

      You're right, we are arm-chair generals. We have no way of objectively determining if 1 V-22 is better than 3 Blackhawks. But therein lies the problem. We have a government that can't not throw good money after bad telling us yes(even when the military they are buying it for are saying, "please, god, no we don't even want this."), and a biased opposition that would probably oppose just about any military spending telling us no. We are left having to trust a broken system.

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    2. As for the deck thing. I did my internship in a lab that did material maintenance research for the Air Force. Much of the damage that occurs from these high heat and stress environments is non-visible and undetectable without specialized equipment. You don't usually see it until the damage is catastrophic(engines and wings flying apart in mid flight) The article is unclear about the nature of the damage to the ships, but my guess is it's a long term structural problem from the heat. Something that comes up during refits, not so much apparent during day-to-day operations. It's also possible that standard operational procedures are already accounting for the possible damage.

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    3. Anyone can pretend to be anything on the internet TJ, but let’s assume that you’re exactly who you say you are, and that the V-22 is ‘working’ for your unit/company/division in the ops that are assigned to it. I still have some questions for you, which all come from reading the words of guys with real on the ground’ experience, like you.

      Are you privy to the planning of your ops? Do you know which ops have been avoided due to limitations like altitude, visibility, and expected enemy proximity? If you don’t stress the aircraft, then you’re not nearly as likely to have problems. If you don’t get close to the enemy, then the lack of armor and armament isn’t going to be a big issue. Unless you’re comparing the ops assigned to the V-22 with those of a Chinook, or Black Hawk. Which can get in close and take more punishment.

      How’s the landing spacing for V-22s? Do you find that your unit has to be deployed more spread out, or must wait around longer at the insertion point for each V-22 to approach, land, and take off again well clear of the others? How’s that compare to the ability of Chinooks and Black Hawks to land together in close proximity and deploy their troops all at once?

      Are you confident in the ability of 3+ Ospreys to quickly land and extract your unit(s) from a hostile-fire situation in tight quarters?

      Do the V-22’s fly alone, or are they usually trailed (as I’ve heard) by Chinooks and Black Hawks that can pick up those stranded when a V-22 breaks down or has a landing mishap?

      Are the V-22’s carrying full loads (esp. at high altitudes)? Are they carrying as much or more than a Chinook could in its place? Are they used for close air support in the same way that a Chinook or Black Hawk can be?

      What percentage of your outfit’s V-22’s are off-line for maintenance on a given day? How does that compare to other VTOL platforms on that carrier or at that airbase?

      Have you talked with the carrier guys about the stress the V-22 puts on the deck? Are they hosing the deck down with cooling water before takeoff/landing? Are you limited to rolling takeoffs/landings to spread out that stress over more deck area? Do you notice that you’re always landing on purpose-built concrete pads atop the normal tarmac, well away from dusty ground? Does that limit how many V-22s can take off or land at a time compared to a helicopter?

      I appreciate the view of someone ‘on the ground’, but that’s just one perspective amongst many. As a soldier, you don’t have to care so much about the cost of using V-22s versus other platforms. You don’t necessarily see the logistics tail, or the training hurdles, or the cost in ops that can’t be made. Or the cost of the modifications to carriers and airfields that must be made to accommodate the Osprey’s special needs.

      Sure, all aircraft have quirks, and operational adaptations will find workarounds for most of them. But in the V-22’s case, it seems like the ops tend to get designed around it, rather than the other way around. It might get the job done, but does it waste more resources doing it than other solutions? The lack of army/NATO orders would seem to say so.

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