RJ

Why US Marine Aviation is the Future and the Army isn't

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Came across this today.  It is an informational gold mine on how our Ground Forces compare in their Aviation components.

The smaller service has more aircraft than the US Army.  The Army is restricted to helo's by congress.  The Air Force worked real hard to box the Army in this role.  Marine Aviation has the full boat choices thru their Naval Aviation History. They have retained their Fighter Air Intercepter Defender role, their Fighter Bomber Air to Ground Team to support Marine Infantry, Armor and Transport. with lift capability in larger and faster lift capability for Infantry Air Assault. The F-35 Marine version has Harrier Vertical lift capability so they can support Marines from closer locations that allows them to refuel and rearm ad get back into the Fight

much faster the conventional fixed wing air craft. that need landing platforms like Carriers and Airbases.

 

Knight771 is one of several  retired Army Aviator's active on SOL and a I'd like to see his opinion of this article.    This thread isn't political, but it has legs in the politics that go on between the Services jockying for their piece of the Defense Budget!

 

FORBES  Aug 6, 2018, 10:36am

Why Marine Aviation Is Leaping Into The Future And Army Aviation Isn't

Loren Thompson, Contributor Aerospace & Defense

 

During the two difficult decades following the 9-11 attacks, the U.S. Marine Corps transformed its aviation arm. Aging CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters were replaced by far more capable MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotors, which combine the vertical agility of a rotorcraft with the speed and range of a fixed-wing plane. Meanwhile, the Marines became the first service to begin operating the F-35 fighter, a multi-role strike aircraft that in the Marine version can land and take off vertically (similar to a helicopter) while remaining invisible to enemy radar.

 

While these revolutionary developments were unfolding, the U.S. Army tried three times to replace its decrepit fleet of scout helicopters, and each time it failed. The service finally decided to simply retire the fleet even though it had no replacement, turning the armed reconnaissance mission over to heavier Apache attack helicopters -- helicopters designed to conduct different missions in wartime.

 

The difference of Army and Marine experiences in revitalizing Cold War aviation assets since 9-11 is emblematic of a broader divergence in their modernization efforts. No service has done a better job than the Marine Corps at innovating within tight budgets. It has managed to radically improve its approach to combat while claiming less than 10% of the defense budget. No service has done a worse job of modernizing than the Army, which has squandered many billions of dollars on programs it later decided to abandon.

In fact, every one of the Army's top technology initiatives today is a successor to earlier efforts that were killed after considerable investment of time and money. As a result, the Army is still relying on weapons that came to fruition during the Reagan era -- before the advent of the Worldwide Web -- to wage war in the information age. The service has repeatedly upgraded and remanufactured those weapons, but aside from a handful of programs like the Stryker troop carrier, it has surprisingly little to show for 20 years of "modernization."

 

The closest thing to an excuse that the Army has for this sorry performance is that it was heavily engaged in fighting throughout the post 9-11 period. It provided most of the U.S. forces deployed to Southwest Asia, and it took most of the casualties. It's hard to step back and think about future military requirements when you're already engaged in combat. The Army did a decent job of fielding urgently needed gear in Iraq and Afghanistan, even if that gear wasn't suited to beating the near-peer threats on which it now must focus.

 

But the Marines were deployed in Southwest Asia too, and a lot of other places to boot. As America's 9-11 force -- the first responders to arrive in-country when troubles arise -- they were just as distracted as the Army. Somehow, the Marine Corps was able to sustain its vision of future combat built around agile air power and a resourceful infantry despite the frequent effort of political forces in Washington to undermine its most cherished modernization programs.

 

So today, the Marines are poised to be the nation's dominant ground force, even though they have less than half the active-duty headcount of the Army. In the case of aviation, the Marine Corps stuck with its plans for modernizing through hell and high water, while the Army couldn't seem to stick with any plan for more than a few years. The Army's helicopter fleet is still capable, but that is due as much to the debility of recent adversaries as investment in new technology. How it would fare in a fight with Russia or China is anyone's guess.

 

Which brings me to Future Vertical Lift, the Army-Navy program that supposedly is going to provide a replacement for all of the Army's Cold War helicopters. The basic concept of the program is simple enough -- a family of five rotorcraft sharing common technology and equipment in order to save money. If FVL, as it is usually called, were executed as currently planned, it would fix pretty much everything that ails Army Aviation.

 

However, it probably won't be. First of all, spending on the program is scheduled to ramp up toward the end of the next decade when federal funding is likely to be scarcer than it is today. Second, the Army and the Navy don't really agree on what should come first; the Navy needs to replace medium-size Black Hawk helicopter variants deployed across its fleet, whereas the biggest gap in Army Aviation is all those missing scout helicopters. Without new scouts, it isn't so clear who will provide recon for the other gear the Army plans to buy.

 

And then there's the Army's perennial inability to stick with a plan. As FVL is currently scoped out, full-rate production of new helicopters doesn't commence until President Trump's successor is about to leave office (assuming he or she serves two terms). Think of how many Army leaders will come and go during that extended timeframe, and how tempted each of them will be to tinker with the plan. The Army needs to start bending metal on new rotorcraft a lot faster, before it has time to change its mind.

 

Fortunately, there is a solution. The Army has been leading a "precursor" to FVL called Joint Multi-role that has already generated promising options for new rotorcraft. One industry team, led by Bell/Textron, has developed a third-generation tilt-rotor that is flying today. The other team, led by Lockheed/Sikorsky and Boeing, is proposing a fast and agile conventional helicopter. Either option would greatly out-perform existing Army helicopters in speed, range, payload and other key performance parameters.

 

What the Army and Navy need to do is leverage technology that industry has already developed to compress the schedule of Future Vertical Lift. The Army in particular could have a new medium helicopter for moving soldiers around the battlefield, or a new scout helicopter, in less than ten years if it just skipped the superfluous early stages of FVL that have already been covered by the precursor program. Why wait until the 2030s to bend metal when solutions have already emerged from a robust, digitized, competitive development effort?

 

Rumor has it that a team formed by the Army chief of staff to rethink aviation modernization has already come to the same conclusion: it has the data it needs to begin Future Vertical Lift in midstream at the engineering stage, rather than starting over. This could be the Army's best opportunity to prove it is still capable of developing next-generation equipment expeditiously. Coming up with a successor to current armored vehicles may need two decades of investment before production can commence, but aviation solutions are in hand.

 

Obviously, the Marine Corps has modernization options the Army does not, since it operates both fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft. The Army only has helicopters. The Air Force's F-35s would have to provide air cover in a future European war. But with a bigger budget and more focused aviation requirements, there's no need for the Army to wait until mid-century to field replacements for helicopters that commenced development in the 1960s and 1970s. FVL needs to move faster, and Army Aviation needs to begin its own leap into the future. END

 

 

 

 

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Sounds like army lobbying propaganda to me. At least they lay it on the line: "Yes, we squandered billions before, yes, we're squandering billions now, but let's ACCELERATE the squander rate before anyone changes their minds!"

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Just my opinion, but I see a future of totally unmanned military aviation, all services.  Won't need pilots or air crew (except for casevac).  Cheaper, safer and more precise.   

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Just now, KnewBee said:

Just my opinion, but I see a future of totally unmanned military aviation, all services.  Won't need pilots or air crew (except for casevac).  Cheaper, safer and more precise.   

Cheaper?........probably not.

More precise?...........probably not.

Safer?.........Yup, fewer pilots getting shot down.

 

BTW, I would not want CAS being flown by unmanned remote.

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27 mins ago, Gotcow? said:

Cheaper?........probably not.

More precise?...........probably not.

Safer?.........Yup, fewer pilots getting shot down.

 

BTW, I would not want CAS being flown by unmanned remote.

Drone technology is really "taking off".    Even seen some unmanned vehicles full of armaments, not to mention UUWVs (underwater).   Who knows. 

 

I see it, maybe not soon, but inevitable.  A kid flying a drone from Colorado can be just as precise as a pilot over whateversatn.  

 

CASEVAC would still require a minimum staff, but not necessarily pilots.  

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2 mins ago, KnewBee said:

Drone technology is really "taking off".    Even seen some unmanned vehicles full of armaments, not to mention UUWVs (underwater).   Who knows. 

 

I see it, maybe not soon, but inevitable.  A kid flying a drone from Colorado can be just as precise as a pilot over whateversatn.  

 

CASEVAC would still require a minimum staff, but not necessarily pilots.  

What is CASEVAC?

 

Like everything else, piloting will go automated. It has already started, even as far back as the Tomahawk Missiles. Tell em where to go, and even make corrections in mid flight, and off they go.

As long as our GPS isn't hacked, that is.

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I believe KnewBee is referring to medical casualty evacuations. Even if the airframe can fly itself, you'll still need people to insert IVs and apply tourniquets and take vital signs and do all the things that have to be done within that famous Golden Hour. We are nowhere near having a robot do that. 

 

As far as waste goes, my layman's $0.02 is that the Army has probably wasted less then the AF and Navy. The F-35 is a running ulcer that continues to bleed the DoD budget. Boeing can't build a new tanker.  God only knows what the real budget figures are for the B-21.  The Navy has spent about $20 billion, about the price of two new Ford class supercarriers, on a trio of Zumwalt destroyers whose specialty armament, 155 mm. guns, don't actually work. It's been common knowledge for some time that shrinking the class from a projected 25 ships to just three has driven the price of ammunition to one million dollars a round. More recently, it's come out that the guns, when tested, didn't have anything near their intended range of 100 miles. Why weren't they tested more thoroughly before the Navy committed itself to the program? Because that's not how budget politics work. First you get Congress committed, you spend money upfront as fast as possible, and then, if the thing doesn't work, you go back and say you need more to avoid wasting the money already spent. Why didn't the Navy notice that amortizing the cost of ammunition over three ships instead of 25 was driving the cost per round through the stratosphere?  Good luck finding an answer to that one. The Littoral Combat Ship is another bad ship design, for which the Navy is thoroughly responsible, but who is counting? 

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1 min ago, KnewBee said:

Drone technology is really "taking off".    Even seen some unmanned vehicles full of armaments, not to mention UUWVs (underwater).   Who knows. 

 

I see it, maybe not soon, but inevitable.  A kid flying a drone from Colorado can be just as precise as a pilot over whateversatn.  

 

CASEVAC would still require a minimum staff, but not necessarily pilots.  

Don't get me wrong I think drones will become more numerous and useful but I just feel that a human pilot over the battlefield provides better info than a bank of sensors and video.

 

I especially like the X-47 and what it will lead to.

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Just now, BrianBM said:

 

 

As far as waste goes, my layman's $0.02 is that the Army has probably wasted less then the AF and Navy. The F-35 is a running ulcer that continues to bleed the DoD budget. Boeing can't build a new tanker.  God only knows what the real budget figures are for the B-21. 

FWIW each successive LRIP lot of F-35s continues to drop the cost and increase it's capabilities.

I have a whole host of issues with the F-35 but it is becoming more affordable.

 

The Boeing tanker has fixed it hiccups and is moving into full production.

I wonder if the Airbus version would have had the same problems.........

 

As for the B-21 I have no expectation that they will hold the line on cost projections.

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21 mins ago, Gotcow? said:

1.  FWIW each successive LRIP lot of F-35s continues to drop the cost and increase it's capabilities.

I have a whole host of issues with the F-35 but it is becoming more affordable.

 

2.  The Boeing tanker has fixed it hiccups and is moving into full production.

I wonder if the Airbus version would have had the same problems.........

 

3.  As for the B-21 I have no expectation that they will hold the line on cost projections.

1.  The bookkeeping on the F-35's costs is brilliantly fraudulent.

 

a)  First, note that the AF reduced requirements for transonic acceleration twice. This did not get the taxpayer any cost reduction. If you have to pay the same money for reduced capacity, I translate that as a price increase.

b)  Because the aircraft is sooooo late to service, the AF and Navy are both budgeting money for new F-15 and F-18 airframes, and committing money to major overhauls on existing aircraft. The total money is in the ten billion neighborhood, albeit I've never seen anything that consolidates the cost of new and rebuilt aircraft needed because the F-35's so late to service. That's not strictly a program cost, but it bites the taxpayer just as hard. Keeping it off the books is clever accounting.   

c) Aviation Week broke the news, a few months ago, that the first production aircraft may never be capable of being combat-coded. Current production has incorporated a myriad of changes, fixes, tweaks to structural components, so much so that the initial aircraft may not be worth the cost of bringing them up to combat status. We're talking between one hundred and two hundred aircraft. I doubt the contract makes any specific provision for 100-200 aircraft that are limited to initial flight training and initial mechanic training. Again, no one's admitting to cost figures.   

d) Capacities are increasing, no doubt of that. The software will, given time, be debugged enough to no longer inhibit combat use; Israel has already taken their first F-35 "Adir" aircraft into combat, in at least one strike in Syria. ALIS will be debugged .. eventually ...  but the system is about eight years overdue! 

 

My longest-term worry is that the endless expense and time spent on getting the F-35 flying has cost us the time and money needed to develop the weapons needed to fully exploit the plane's stealth and sensor fusion. There's nothing class-leading about the AIM-9X, and I doubt there's anything much superior about the AIM-120D (which the current F-35 still can't use; it's limited to the 120 C-7 version that we've been exporting for years.)  We've been dropping lots of ordinance on the ground these past few years, but in a permissive environment. We haven't had to deal with peer electronic warfare, or develop weapons to deal with it, and we haven't had to spend money on high-end SEAD. (We're probably seeing some interference in Syria, but nobody's shooting at us with anything but old weapons.) 

 

2.  Within the past few days, one of the military sites I browse was quoting an AF General as saying that he's not at all convinced that Boeing has the KC-46 ready to go. The drogue used by Navy aircraft is still iffy, and the software and camera fixes needed to refuel stealthy AF aircraft without damaging their stealthy coatings remain unproven. I think it was in Defense News, if I can find a link, I'll see if I can sneak it into this post, on an edit.

 

The Airbus tanker is operational without difficulty. 

 

3.  Agreed. The AF is disclosing nothing about the program, really. The explanation is that we don't want to let potential adversaries know anything about it.  My suspicion is that the AF simply doesn't want Congress getting sniffy about rising costs. 

 

 

 

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 To avoid fracturing house rules .... the General is Carlton Everhart II.  His comments are quoted in nationaldefensemagazine dot org.

 

I suspect the site is descended from "Ordinance," the house magazine of the American Ordinance Association. My father subscribed, as a lifelong employee of one or another defense contractor.  There are a couple of posters here who remember it, I bet.

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3 hours ago, dena said:

What is CASEVAC?

 

Like everything else, piloting will go automated. It has already started, even as far back as the Tomahawk Missiles. Tell em where to go, and even make corrections in mid flight, and off they go.

As long as our GPS isn't hacked, that is.

Casualty Evacuation, usually by helicopter (Dust Off).  

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1 hour ago, BrianBM said:

 To avoid fracturing house rules .... the General is Carlton Everhart II.  His comments are quoted in nationaldefensemagazine dot org.

 

I suspect the site is descended from "Ordinance," the house magazine of the American Ordinance Association. My father subscribed, as a lifelong employee of one or another defense contractor.  There are a couple of posters here who remember it, I bet.

Cities make "ordinances"  (like in VA Beach a woman can't wear a thong on the beach, thanks Pat Robertson!)

 

"Ordnance" on the other hand is the stuff that goes bomb and pretty sure the mag in question.   (it's personal).  

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1 hour ago, BrianBM said:

1.  The bookkeeping on the F-35's costs is brilliantly fraudulent.

 

Would you end the F-35 and start a clean sheet new airframe if you could?

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