Sunday, October 9, 2016
Textron's V-22 Osprey Is a Winner -- and Sikorsky Should Be Scared
Introducing the USMC's new Big Bird -- the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey.
Folks, I'm on record saying that United Technologies made a very big mistake when it elected to sell off its Sikorsky helicopter division. Even the nice price UTC got -- $9 billion -- may turn out to be too cheap if Sikorsky retains its position as the world's most popular combat helicopter-maker.
But allow me to insert a caveat here, today. If there's one thing that could make Sikorsky's helicopter franchise less valuable, it is Textron and its V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
Ospreys have big wings
The Osprey, as you can see in the photo above, is a helicopter-airplane hybrid. With its two massive propellers pointed at the sky, it can take off and land on a proverbial dime. Tilt those propellers horizontally, however, and the V-22 Osprey shifts into airplane mode, cruising as far as 470 miles at speeds of 300 mph.
According to U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Paul Greenberg, this means the MV-22B (a V-22 variant built specifically for the Corps) can "carry a significantly greater payload than the aircraft it is replacing, the CH-46, at twice the speed and range -- over 60% greater range than any other rotorcraft, and more with aerial refueling." Simply put, Major Greenberg says the Osprey "far outstrips" the competition.
Moving out of the nest
Built in cooperation with Boeing, Textron's Osprey got off to a rough start, suffering four crashes during its development period, and three more after it entered into service. That said, one of those in-service crashes occurred during extreme weather conditions in a war zone. The other two happened during pilot training. This suggests the accidents had less to do with imperfections in the aircraft, and more to do with pilots' need for time to get used to flying the Osprey.
But the more the Marines do fly the V-22 Osprey, the more they like it.