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Friday, July 1, 2005

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"Filling Comanche's Shoes"

As Douglas W. Nelm's article suggests, the future of U.S. Army aviation could be decided in the next few months with contract awards for the armed reconnaissance and light utility helicopters ("Filling Comanche's Shoes," May 2006, page 21.) These are the two largest new procurements by the Army. Both fill critical missions. Only the armed reconnaissance helicopter really seeks to fill the shoes of the Comanche.

Given the history of Army aviation programs, it would do well for those awarding the contracts to think about growth potential in the systems they acquire. One consideration must be the physical space and powerplant of the candidate helicopters. Another is the sophistication of the avionics packages and the ability of the combat and survivability systems to grow and adapt. These considerations are particularly important for the ARH procurement. A third consideration dealing with cost and sustainment is a large installed supply and maintenance base, derived either from similar government programs or the commercial market. Cost and ease of sustainment should be an important factor in awarding the light utility helicopter contract.

What a careful reading of Mr. Nelms' article shows is that the U.S. helicopter industrial base is robust. There is also the opportunity to introduce new technologies, as is the case with the Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland/Bell win in the Marine One competition.

The outcome of the armed reconnaissance and light utility helicopters competitions is unlikely to tip the balance of market share in favor of any competitor.

Dr. Daniel Goure
Vice President, The Lexington Institute
Arlington, Virginia

What the CV-22 Will Do

A Military item in your April 2005 Rotorcraft Report contains a seemingly minor but important error ("V-22 Enters Second OpEval," page 20). The last sentence states that "the Air Force has ordered 50 Ospreys to replace MH-53 Pave Low helicopters for special operations." While the Air Force is indeed planning to purchase the stated number of CV-22s, and the MH-53 is being phased out, the Osprey is not the projected replacement for the Pave Low.

The MH-53 Pave Low, a distinguished workhorse supporting the global war on terrorism, is a U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command asset, but also part of U.S. Special Operations Command's joint special operations forces aviation inventory. It provides heavy-lift, rotary-wing infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special-operations ground forces. This capability remains as critical as ever to our special forces, and as the Pave Low is phased out, this capability will be replaced by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command's MH-47G.

On the other hand, the CV-22 Osprey, with its tilt-rotor design enabling twice the speed and five times the range of conventional rotary-wing aircraft, represents a totally different and transformational addition to our nation's special operations aviation inventory. The Osprey provides a capability that we have never had before. As such, it is not replacing anything; it is enabling much greater flexibility in how the U.S. Special Operations Command is able to plan and execute its missions.

This may seem a small point, but it is a common misconception and one which can lead to a false perception of what the CV-22 will provide our special forces. To label the Osprey a replacement for the Pave Low presupposes that they have similar flight characteristics and capabilities, which could not be farther from the truth. It leads people to concentrate on what the CV-22 can't do, while ignoring the many amazing things it will do. As the CV-22 continues special-operations-specific testing and the 71st Special Operations Sqdn. is activated to prepare to train our next generation of special forces aviators, there is great excitement and expectation concerning the enormous potential this aircraft has to revolutionize the delivery of special forces on time, on target, any time, any place.

Lt. Col. Jim Cardoso
Commander, 71st Special Operations Sqdn.
Kirtland AFB, N.M.

Settling With Power?

In his article on settling with power, Johan Nurmi suggests on more than one occasion that "settling with power" is more likely to occur in heavy and high conditions ("Settling With Power," May 2005, page T10). This is absolutely incorrect.

To enter vortex ring state, you must first equal your downwash speed with your rate of descent. The higher or heavier you are, the higher your downwash velocity will be and the more difficult it will be to enter true vortex ring state (although you will be much more likely to enter a condition that I would call "settling for lack of power" but not "settling with power.") Vortex ring state is a widely misunderstood concept and I think Mr. Nurmi's article does not help to clear this up. Instead, it reaffirms old myths.

Mr. Nick Lappos, ex-Sikorsky test pilot, has an excellent webpage that explains the information above, and he has been kind enough to explain this to myself and many others over and over.

Carlos Oscar Ruiz Carde񡼢r> Commercial Pilot, Helicopter/Fixed-Wing
Mexico City

I am a Naval Aviator (1967), "46 driver" and Army Guard aviator for many years. I read the article on settling with power and could not keep from responding.

These young aviators today are apparently taught they have all the power they need and can do anything. The basic rules of the game have not changed and safety is the main concern. This was overlooked when this "huge military helicopter" was destroyed.

I understand direct enemy action, having flown in Vietnam for a year. I do not want to get into a long discussion on how to properly operate a helicopter. The article does that. The bottom line here is to use your head and stay out of trouble, especially in a noncombat situation.

Erling Rolfson
Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve (ret.)
Commerical Pilot
New Rockford, N.D.

ARH Antennas

Enjoyed your May issue, although I couldn't help but notice that on the cover photo of the Bell 407X, it appears as though the two forward quadrant AN/APR-39 (series) spiral antennas are installed upside down. It doesn't effect performance, but it does put the weep hole at the top, verses the bottom.

Ken Collyer
SRI International

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