SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOC?????
[H.A.S.C. No. 10714]
V22 OSPREY PROGRAM
MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
MAY 1, 2001
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Internet: bookstore.gpo.gov Phone: (202) 512-1800 Fax: (202) 512-2250
Mail: Stop SSOP, Washington, DC 20402-0001
MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
FLOYD D. SPENCE, South Carolina, Chairman
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
TERRY EVERETT, Alabama
HOWARD P. ''BUCK'' McKEON, California
J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma
MAC THORNBERRY, Texas
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina
JIM RYUN, Kansas
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
HEATHER WILSON, New Mexico
ROB SIMMONS, Connecticut
MARK STEVEN KIRK, Illinois
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJO ANN DAVIS, Virginia
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
IKE SKELTON, Missouri
JOHN SPRATT, South Carolina
LANE EVANS, Illinois
ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, Illinois
THOMAS H. ALLEN, Maine
JIM TURNER, Texas
ADAM SMITH, Washington
JAMES H. MALONEY, Connecticut
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
ROBERT A. BRADY, Pennsylvania
John Sullivan, Professional Staff Member
J.J. Gertler, Professional Staff Member
Jesse Tolleson, Staff Assistant
C O N T E N T S
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF HEARINGS
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Tuesday, May 1, 2001, V22 Osprey Program
Tuesday, May 1, 2001
TUESDAY, MAY 1, 2001
V22 OSPREY PROGRAM
STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Spence, Hon. Floyd, a Representative from South Carolina, Chairman, Military Procurement Subcommittee
Taylor, Hon. Gene, a Representative from Mississippi, Ranking Member, Military Procurement Subcommittee
Dailey, Gen. John R., United States Marine Corps (Retired), Chairman, Panel to Review the V22 Program
Holland, Gen. Charles R., Commander in Chief, United States Special Operations Command, United States Air Force
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Jones, Gen. James L., Commandant of the Marine Corps, United States Marine Corps
[The Prepared Statements submitted for the Record can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Dailey, Gen. John R.
Holland, Gen. Charles R.
Jones, Gen. James L.
Spence, Hon. Floyd
DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Documents submitted for the Record can be viewed in the hard copy.]
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Questions and Answers are pending.]
V22 OSPREY PROGRAM
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCHouse of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Military Procurement Subcommittee,
Washington, DC, Tuesday, May 1, 2001.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:06 p.m. in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Floyd Spence (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. FLOYD SPENCE, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM SOUTH CAROLINA, CHAIRMAN, MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
Mr. SPENCE. We will please be in order.
Let me begin by welcoming the gentleman from Mississippi, Mr. Taylor, as the newly appointed Ranking Democrat on the subcommittee. We are pleased to have you with us in your new capacity. I have served with him a good while and always glad to see him in whatever capacity. I look forward to working closely with you to address the important issues of military procurement and modernization in the 107th Congress.
This afternoon we will hear testimony from the Secretary of Defense-appointed panel to review the V22 program. The panel has conducted a thorough top-to-bottom review of the V22 program, including its engineering and design, production and quality control, stability to meet operational requirements, performance and flight safety. We will also hear testimony on the impact of the panel's recommendations from the senior officers of two principal V22 users, the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Commander in Chief of the Special Operations Command.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
For the Marine Corps, the MV22 is a critical modernization program, replacing the over 30-year-old CH46E and the CH53D helicopter fleets with a vastly improved medium lift capability. For the Special Operations Command, the CV22 will similarly replace the aging MH53J and MH60G helicopter fleets, providing increased speed and range necessary to conduct sensitive missions deep in enemy territory.
There is no question about the requirement to modernize the equipment for these significant United States military missions. However, the past year has proven to be one of the most difficult in completing the development and fielding of this important aircraft program. Most notably, the crash of two V22s in April and December of last year and the loss of 23 Marines reminds us of the sacrifice and danger present in all military operations in peacetime as well as in war.
In October 2000, the V22 completed its operational evaluation, a graduation exercise designed to ensure that the V22 was ready to enter the full-rate production and be released to the fleet. If Navy and Marine Corps considered the V22 to be both effective in meeting mission requirements and suitable for use in demanding military conditions, the Department of Defense Director of Operational Test and Evaluation cautioned that its reliability, maintainability and availability needed further development and testing before the aircraft was ready for fleet use.
Subsequent to the operational evaluation, the General Accounting Office also questioned whether the V22 had been sufficiently developed to enter full productionfull-rate production. In January of this year, the squadron commander of the V22 unit at Marine Corps Air Station, New River, North Carolina, admitted to falsifying maintenance records, and this admission is also resulting in the Department of Defense Inspector General, DOD IG, criminal investigation. Since this investigation is ongoing, a witness from the DOD IG is not present today. However, the DOD IG has informed the panel to review the V22 program that none of the panel's information contradicts that of the DOD IG in its own investigation thus far.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Following the most recent V22 crash in December of 2000, the Secretary of Defense appointed the panel before us today. They have completed their review and recommended that the V22 program proceed, but in a restructured manner, that matures the V22 design, reduces near-term production to a minimum sustaining level, and ultimately procures the aircraft at a higher, more efficient production rate.
We are pleased to welcome the distinguished members of the panel to review the V22 program today. First we have General John R. Dailey, United States Marine Corps, Retired, chairman of the panel to review the V22 program. Following a 36-year career as a Marine Corps general and pilot, General Dailey served as the Associate Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and is now the Director of the National Air and Space Museum.
Second, Mr. Norman R. Augustine, a familiar face around these places, a member of the panel. In addition to being a noted author, Mr. Augustine has a distinguished career in industry, government and the academic world. He is the immediate past chief executive officer of the Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Third, we have General J.B. Davis, United States Air Force, Retired, member of the panel. Following a 35-year Air Force career as a combat fighter pilot, commander and strategic planner, General Davis has remained heavily involved in international and aviation affairs and has continued to serve his country on various defense commissions.
Fourth, General Eugene E. Covert. Dr. Covert is the
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
T. Wilson Professor of Aeronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Additionally, he has served on several government and industry boards and is a former chief scientist of the Air Force.
We also welcome our other distinguished witnesses, General James L. Jones, Commandant of the Marine Corps; and General Holland, United States Air Force, commander in chief of the United States Special Operations Command.
We are delighted to have all you gentlemen with us this afternoon and look forward to your testimony.
I would also like the Members to note that several other individuals are present from the Department of Defense, the Marine Corps, the Naval Air Systems Command and the General Accounting Office to respond to any questions you may have concerning the various reports recently released by their organization.
Our expert witnesses are Mr. Lee Frame, Acting Director of Defense Operation Test and Evaluation; Ms. Katherine Schinasi, Director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management, General Accounting Office; Brigadier General John A. Gallinetti, Marine Corps, I guess, senior member, December 11, 2000, MV22's Mishap Board; Rear Admiral Steve Enewold, Program Executive Officer for Assault and Special Missions, Naval Air Systems Command; Colonel Nolan Schmidt, United States Marine Corps, V22 program manager; and Lieutenant Colonel Steven M. Keim, United States Marine Corps, senior investigator, Judge Advocate General Investigation Team for the December 11, 2000, MV22 mishap.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The committee welcomes each of you and thanks you for being here today.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Spence can be found the Appendix.]
Mr. SPENCE. General Davis, before I turn the floor over to you, I would like to call upon Mr. Taylor, the new Ranking Democrat on our subcommittee, for any opening remarks he would like to make. Mr. Taylor.
STATEMENT OF HON. GENE TAYLOR, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM MISSISSIPPI, RANKING MEMBER, MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you very much for your kind words. If I ever on occasion stray from your lead, I would just remind you that the last time Mississippi followed South Carolina, that the results were less than desirable. But I would also like to make mention that this is the first hearing since the death of Norm Sisiskyand Norm was dubbed by Ron Dellums as ''The Kahuna.'' he was dubbed by others as ''The Godfather,'' and he is certainly someone who could make you an offer you couldn't refuse and someone who you did not want to refuse, but he will be missed by all. He was a great, great member ofrepresenting not only his district, but all the shipbuilding interests of Virginia and the entire Nation, and we are going to miss him, and we will try to live up to his expectations.
Gentlemen, I appreciate you being here. I, to date, have not opposed the V22, but like every American, I can't help but be concerned with the deaths of those young Marines, America's sons and daughters. We have an aging UH1 fleet that absolutely has to be replaced, and replaced in the shortest possible manner. So the questionthe guidance I am going to seek from you is how do we best do that to protect the best interests of the American taxpayer and protect the best interests of America's sons and daughters, some of whom are soldiers, some of whom are Marines? And I hope you can give us some guidance along those lines.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SPENCE. Thank you.
[The information referred to can be found the the Appendix.]
Mr. SPENCE. General Dailey, we will begin with you and your testimony and followed by General Jones and General Holland, and, gentlemen, your prepared statements will be submitted in the record without objection.
STATEMENT OF GEN. JOHN R. DAILEY, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS (RETIRED), CHAIRMAN, PANEL TO REVIEW THE V22 PROGRAM
General DAILEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the subcommittee. We are pleased to appear here today to discuss the findings and recommendations of the panel to review the V22 program. Secretary of Defense Cohen determined that the accident history of the V22 aircraft and other testing issues required an independent review of the program. I would like to briefly review our activities.
The panel was commissioned on December 15, 2000, and met with its Deputy Secretary of Defense on December 28, 2000. Fact-finding activities started on January 11, 2001. These consisted of briefings on the Marine Corps and Special Operations Command mission requirements, the ability of the V22 aircraft to meet the requirements and the program status. We were briefed by the program manager, the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation and the General Accounting Office. We spoke with the Naval Air Systems Command, test personnel, pilots, maintainers and contractors.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In March we conducted site visits. The visitswe visited the training squadron at Marine Corps Air Station in New River, North Carolina, and Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. After a visit to Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth and Amarillo, Texas, we concluded our visit at Boeing Helicopter in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During this time, we toured the flight line, training facilities, maintenance spaces, factories and engineering laboratories, and flew the V22 simulator.
On March the 9th, we conducted an open meeting to provide the general public the opportunity to submit information to the panel about the V22 program.
On April 18th, we held an open meeting to conduct the public deliberations in preparation for submitting our recommendation to the Secretary of Defense.
Our purpose today is to present a summary of our findings, conclusions and recommendations, and as the Chairman has permitted, we will submit a copy of the report for the record.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix.]
General DAILEY. We recommend that the program be continued, but restructured. We found no evidence of an inherent safety flaw in the V22 tiltrotor concept. That the requirement is justified and that the V22 has demonstrated its ability to satisfy the requirement. However, we found that the V22 lacks the maturity needed for full rate production or operational use. We recommended temporarily reducing production to a minimum sustaining level, which will provide funds for the maturation program while keeping the number of aircraft requiring retrofit to a minimum. To recover program costs in the schedule, we recommended the program ultimately procure at a higher rate, at a higher and more efficient rate with a firm fixed price multiyear contract. We also recommended implementation of a phased approach to return to full rate production and operation. Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement on behalf of the panel, and we are now ready for your questions.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
[The prepared statement of General Dailey can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. SPENCE. General Jones.
STATEMENT OF GEN. JAMES L. JONES, COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
General JONES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Taylor, members of the subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present testimony on the V22 Osprey program. As General Dailey just mentioned, you will today receive testimony from the independent panel convened by our former Secretary of Defense, Bill Cohen. We are all grateful for the diligent efforts by these distinguished experts.
I would also like to introduce to the subcommittee the presence ofacknowledge the presence of two Marines who are here from VMMT204, our Osprey training squadron located in New River, North Carolina, at the Marine Corps air station. And I would ask them to stand briefly so you can see them. One is Major Carson Hecklle, who is the assistant operations officer for the squadron and an Osprey pilot, and with him is Staff Sergeant Tom Fowler, who is a crew chief in the Osprey squadron. And they are here to be of assistance to the subcommittee, should you hear directly from not only the intellectual side of the House, from programmatics, but also the operational side, and their knowledge is extensive.
The findings and recommendations of the distinguished panel will help us all to understand both the promise of tiltrotor technology, as well as the prudent path we must now follow in order to be able to fully harvest its vast potential, both for the future of our joint military capability as well as that of our industrial base.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
As the report has only just recently been obtained, we are in the process of evaluating the best way to implement its many recommendations. As we complete this task, we will recommend to the Secretary of Defense a revised plan for the future of the program and will keep you and members of this subcommittee fully informed as to the proposed corrective plan. Our new direction should be event-drivenotherwise time-line drivenin order to ensure that the necessary remedies are fully implemented one step at a time.
The history of this program is particularly well known to this subcommittee. The summary is contained in my prepared remarks, but in the interest of brevity, I would just like to make a few observations. This has been an extremely difficult period of time for those of us privileged to wear the Marine uniform. The two most recent accidents of the V22 have caused enormous grief for marines and their families. Daily we mourn the tragic loss of our comrades, and we reach out to their loved ones, and we will continue to do so in any way we can.
However, oftentimes from such tragedies comes learning, and it is in such lessons that we can and must find the solutions that will enable our future warriors to discharge their important responsibilities to the Nation as safely as possible and with the finest equipment we can place in their hands. However, we should never hesitate to walk away from any technology, V22 included, if it were to be found to be either unsuitable, unsafe or operationally too fragile for it to be placed in the hands of our most precious assets, our marines. We love our people, not our machines, but we use our machines in order that we might safely prevail in our important and frequently dangerous missions.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is of paramount importance, therefore, that we should never be reluctant to simply do what is right. Similarly, no marine would knowingly place other marines at risk in any technology, particularly aviation technology, without the full confidence of the many experts, civilian and military alike, who have worked so diligently to develop it for our Nation's warriors to use. This has always been a distinguishing characteristic of our Nation in developing technologies for use on land, at sea, in the air, and, yes, even in space. This applies to the V22 especially.
With regard to aviation, we know that despite the most modern development and production techniques anywhere in the world, risks are still omnipresent. While examples of this reality abound, let me cite but one. For years during the development of the F117 Stealth Fighter, the program was protected by an understandable veil of secrecy. This aircraft made its maiden flight nearly 20 years ago on June 18, 1981. Before the program was declassified in 1988, three of these aircraft had crashed. An additional three more crashed before 1997. Had the program not been invisible to the public eye, it is not difficult to imagine the criticism that could have been directed its way in the aftermath of such accidents; costs, odd shape, risky technology, not ready, the same type of comments that have been attributed to the V22, by contrast a very visible program.
What wonderful and still unique capability the F117 has given our Nation. The V22 has a similar promise within its own operational mission envelope. It is truly the first step away from the limits of the physics of rotary wing technology. The work of the panel has answered, from my standpoint, the three most pressing questions with regard to this program, and they are, one, is tiltrotor technology mature? Specifically, do the laws of physics, as we understand them, allow a single airframe to perform the flight functions of both a helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft? The panel has answered in the affirmative on this issue, at the same time eliminating any lingering thoughts that this technology might have been a causal factor in any of the four V22 accidents, which I briefly summarize in my prepared testimony.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Question number two, is the V22 program operationally robust enough to meet our needs? Associated with this question are issues relating to the maintenance and reliability, parts availability, publications, program funding meantime between failures. The panel has found that more work needs to be done in these areas, and we agree. This is an important finding. In fact, this question is the central focus of the panel's report.
Question number three, what is the most efficient and economical way to bring this capability into our inventory so that we can retire our aging airframes that have reached the end of their service life? This includes the challenge of restructuring the program in order to implement the panel's recommendations.
Mr. Chairman, I have brought with me several letters written by representatives of both commercial and military interests, both foreign and domestic, expressing their collective belief in the viability of tiltrotor technology and urging our perseverance in this regard. I would ask that these letters be made a part of the record. In addition to their extraordinary military potential, tiltrotors of all sizes could play an important role in the transformation of our military forces for the 21st century. History shows that our Nation has long enjoyed a pioneering role in aviation development, a position of unquestioned global leadership that we want to preserve in this technologically-oriented 21st century.
I am very pleased, Mr. Chairman, to have General Charlie Holland at my side, our distinguished commander in chief for the Special Operations Command, to offer his views on this important subject, and I look forward to responding to your questions.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of General Jones can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. SPENCE. General Holland.
STATEMENT OF GEN. CHARLES R. HOLLAND, COMMANDER IN CHIEF, UNITED STATES SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
General HOLLAND. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Taylor, distinguished members of the subcommittee, I have a brief comment, but I have also submitted a written statement for the record. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the subcommittee today and to provide this Special Operations perspective on one of our future capabilities, the CV22 tiltrotor aircraft. We all remember 21 years ago when the news of our Nation into Iranwhen the hostage rescue was broadcasted worldwide. I can tell you with confidence that the fate of that mission would have been vastly different if the technology the CV22 will bring was available then.
This capability is important to Special Operations missions, providing agility, speed and the long-range penetration to enable Special Operations forces (SOF) to operate any time, anywhere. However, the aircraft must be safe, reliable and maintainable at the locations in which SOF operates.
I have been following the blue ribbon panel deliberations, I have seen the Navy's proposals to restructure the program and spoken at length with my fellow witness, General Jones. I believe all are on the right track. We have a great window of opportunity to take advantage of this leap-ahead technology. I look forward to working with the members of this subcommittee and am prepared to answer your questions at this time. Thank you.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SPENCE. Thank you, General.
[The prepared statement of General Holland can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. SPENCE. General Dailey, the panel identified a number of problems with the V22 program and recommends that the V22 program be restructured. I guess that is the bottom line. Instead of canceling or anything else, you would be restructured and then proceedbe produced at a higher rate later on, at a better price, and in the meantime the restructuring part. Did the panel identify the reasons why the program has progressed this far despite the numerous problems it had?
General DAILEY. Yes, sir. In our review, we were briefed on the performance of the airplane in meeting the test requirements of both the developmentdevelopmental and operational testing, and it met theall 13 of the critical performance parameters which are absolute requirements for the system, and of the 241 threshold requirements, it has completed 30 of them230 of those. So the 11 remaining, we have a specific recommendation in our report that those requirements be validated to determine whether the cost of achieving them is worth the capability that they would provide.
I think that it is perhaps the success of the aircraft in this testing that led it to the production decisions and the status of which we see it. Since that time, and with the benefit of hindsight, I believe that we have learned that perhaps additional testing would have been beneficial on the way, and that is a specific recommendation that we have. And that is really what we mean by we are temporarily reducing the production rate so we can mature the program, meaning expand the flight envelope and do the necessary testing and redesign to get the production configuration before proceeding with full production.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SPENCE. Any other members of the panel have any remarks to make about that question?
I was just going to comment myself in my time around here, about 30 years, I have seen a good many programs come along, and as General Jones referred to, a lot of them had problems along the way. Most of them do when you have a very different technology that you are working on. I remember very welland I was talking to General Holland the morningNorm, maybe you were around thenthe C17, they came in one morning and wanted to scratch that program, and we had already been working on it for a while, invested a whole lot of money into it and everything, and we told them to go back and try again. It was a wing problem, as I remember. And, of course, you can see what the 17C17 is doing today.
So mostmost aircraft, I think, when in testing and evaluation and all the rest during the program, they are going to have accidents, especially this new technology, as I said.
Anyway, does the panel believe to be the greatest challenges of the programwhat does the panel believe are the greatest challenges from a technological and cost standpoint in restructuring?
General DAILEY. The greatest challenge in the restructuring, I believe, would be the redesign of the nacelle, which is the enclosure for the engine, which is where the density has resulted in the proximity of hydraulic lines and electrical wire bundles and other components to where we have seen chafing and some failures as a result of this compactness. And so redesigning that and getting the proper configuration for production, I believe, is probablyfrom the hardware standpoint, is the biggest challenge.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Fromin terms of the overall program, expansion of the flight envelope through a very meticulous test program that includes both simulation and actual flights to determine where the edges of the envelope are so that when it is then released for operational use, we have a better understanding of the limitations of this aircraft, andas to where we can operate it. So this will require an extensive review of the current software and the flight control system and the integration of these hardware and software modifications. And then thoroughly testing, as I said, a very methodical, phased approach to reintroduction to flying and to production and operations.
Mr. SPENCE. Bottom line is you do think that you can fix these problems?
General DAILEY. Yes, sir. And we think these are within the realm of being flexible. If there is nothis is not a technology problem, but it is a manufacturing and engineering problem that is completely within the capabilities.
Mr. SPENCE. Do you have any projection as to the additional funds needed to address these problems and the retrofit, the fixes in all the aircraft that you have?
General DAILEY. It is difficult. What we have recommended is by reducing temporarily the production rate, it will free up funds that are currently in the program to be used for the engineering change proposal design and incorporation. And then thisit is going to cost more, because airplanes are not being built now that will be required later. And so eventually it could cost more, but byonce the production design is fixed, by accelerating the production rate to a more efficient level, we believe that a great deal of this funding could be recovered, so that the total program costs could stay very close to where it is, and all of the fixes could be achieved with the funding that is currently in the program. But it is important that that money stay in that program, because when the production rate is cut, if the money were removed and put somewhere else, they won't have the ability to develop the fixes that are necessary for the production.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SPENCE. I see.
Anybody else have any comments to make on that? If not, General Jones, in the meantime, you have got to make do with what you have got, with aging aircraftalready aged aircraft, and they are aging more all the time, and you have got to make do with that, because there is nothing else to come along to solve your problem, the way I understand it.
General JONES. That is correct, Mr. Chairman, and General Holland has a similar problem. In the Marine Corps the two aircraft that we are attempting to replace is the CH46 and the CH53D, both of whom are about 30 years old. We have been doing thatwe have been doingmaking do some time with that fact. We can probably continue a bit longer. We will have to. Generally the costs associated with that maintenance and Legacy systems on aviation is about 8 percent a year of cost growth. Parts are hard to find, much, much more difficult to keepkeep operating, but with the time frames as I understand them to be, I think we will just have towe will just have to make do and get there as best we can.
Mr. SPENCE. General Holland.
General HOLLAND. Yes, sir. We have a similar circumstance. However, we might be a little bit better off, because we have the MH53J Pave Lows, which will not really require a major service life extension until about 2008. However, until that time, we will continue to need funds to extend the additional airplanes that would be required since we will not have the CV22s.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SPENCE. I see. Thank you.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And gentlemen, thank you all for your testimony.
Mr. Chairman, one thing I do recall from the debate on the C17and maybe it is a coincidence, but maybe it wasn't. I do recall when influential members of the Department of Defense and influential Members of Congress started questioning whether or not we should go to an alternative system and actually ran the cost of going to 747s, ran the costs of going to additional C5s. Strangely, all those things that had been plaguing the C17 program got solved in fairly rapid order. Now, again, it sure seemed like a heck of a coincidence.
Having said that, General, I am troubled that Congress, and, in turn, the marines, have put all their eggs into one basket, the V22's basket. You do have a bunch of fairly ancient platforms out there that you are transporting young marines in every day. I was wondering to what extent the marines have consideredand General Dailey, to what extent, you have considered other options, such as UH60s?
I have got to tell you, knowing that there are several people out there who would love to have my job keeps me on my toes. I do believe in competition, and, quite frankly, I don't think when the marines wentmade the decision that they are going to go to the V22 and that is it, and they are not going to anything else, it could have led to a situation where those folks just haven't delivered as well as they could have if they had been having a competitor looking over their shoulder, such as the Blackhawk.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
My second question would be how difficult would it be in terms of maintenance to have two separate aircraftto have Blackhawks and V22s in your inventory untiluntil the program is perfected, and, quite frankly, until we get the price right? Contrary to what was said during the Presidential debate, repeatedly that help is on the way. I look at this year's defense budget, and I don't see help on the way. I see the smallest American fleet since 1933. I see a shipbuilding budget that has been reduced in the President's request by $3.8 billion. So it is not the ideal world that I would like to have or the Chairman would like to have where we can buy all of the things that we want right now.
So given what we do have to spend, would it not be wise to spend some of those dollars immediately on improving systems such as the Blackhawk or something else?
General JONES. Congressman Taylor, this V22 has been flying for about 11 years. It has been subjected to seven different independent cost and operational evaluations, analyses, at each turn, against any other known aircraft, rotorwing aircraft. It has been validated as the way to go, and it is stillwill outperform any known helicopter of its size.
The issue of the Blackhawk helicopter, which is a fine helicopter, in the combination with the V22 is really one of affordability and being able toif we did something like that, we would have to train marine mechanics, flight mechanics to be proficient on the Blackhawk, buy into all the parts and maintenance that goes with it, the publications, the whole standing up for a completely different line.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Years ago one of the criticisms of our aviation programs in general to include fixed-wing was we had too many open lines of aircraft production rates with single-mission, service-specific aircraft. And the guidance was given that we would stop doing that, and that gave rise to such programs as the Joint Strike Fighter, the V22, which is a joint program for three services, and we have been able to ramp down the different numbers of lines that we have so that we can have one aircraft that is so versatile and technologically superior that it can do many different service missions. And that is our direction.
I did not think back in 1987 that in the year 2001 we would still be talking about the V22, but we are where we are, and with the help of the panel and its great findings and recommendations, I believe that we can accept all of its suggestions, restructure the program, and come back to you with a plan that makes sense and that will, in addition to replacing our two helicopters, help Commander in Chief, Special Operations Command (CINCSOC) with his mission.
The decision is really, I think, what we do here in terms of technology, and do we go forward, or do we godo we take a step backwards, back into the helicopter? The Blackhawk is a wonderful helicopter, but it, too, is getting old, and so by the time we acquired it, we might even be looking at its replacement.
So it is a tough call. It is a decision that was made a long time ago, andbut I think we are close enough to where we can still do something that is very, very good.
Mr. TAYLOR. I am sorry, General. Did your panel look at the alternative of a mix of V22s and something else to fill the need for the next five, ten years in the marines?
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
General DAILEY. Yes, sir, we did. Actually, the analysis is being done by the Department of Defense program analysis and evaluation. They are the ones who have completed several of these previous reviews, and they have added some new helicopters to the mix as potential alternatives, and we hadwe reviewed the findings that they had available, and they have not completed their report yet. But we provided them with our report, and what our findings and conclusions were, and they have said that ours are consistent with what they have found in that the V22 is the only aircraft that can meet the requirement as stated, and that there are combinations of helicopters that could meet parts of the requirement, and there are some thatand the CH60 might be one of those, but there are others like the S92 and the EH101 that are also very capable helicopters.
So they have look at various combinations, and in almost every case, it comes out that the V22 is the most expensive, but it is also the only one capable of meeting the requirement.
Mr. TAYLOR. General, in your mind, has thehas the fact that the Marine Corps and Congress has satisfied the V22 program, you know, you are it, we are sticking with you no matter what, has it contributed to the problem? Because I do sense that I would think in anything in life, if a fellow knows he has got the contract regardless, he is not going to work quite as hard as the fellow who knows he has got a competitor looking over his shoulder, an alternative looking over his shoulder.
General DAILEY. We saw significant actions that have reduced the cost of this program by efficiencies that have been introduced by the program office, and one of the things that we are concerned about is that we also see signs that this program has been underfunded throughout its existence, and so trade-offs have been made and things have been done that have resulted in difficulties in achieving their milestones. But II can't answer whether thethere was a complete and open competition when this program was originally led, and whether thatthe fact that they won the contract nowand are not being held to the highest efficientor efficiencies, we are not capable of assessing, I don't think.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SPENCE. Mr. Thornberry.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First, General Dailey, let me thank you and the other members of the panel for the work you do. There are a number of commissions from time to time which are called upon to perform service for Congress or the Department of Defense, but there are occasions where I think it is very important to have outside, independent, well-respected folks take a look and offer a considered judgment on something. That helps us. It helps the Pentagon, particularly when you get into the situation where you have the kinds of tragedies we are talking about here. I think it was very important, and I appreciate the work that you did and other panel members did and your report.
And it seems to me that you all start at the beginning with the key question. Some of those General Jones has outlined. Do we really need the capability? And you say yes. Are there alternatives? And there are not which can perform the mission. There are other helicopters that may cost less, but they cannot do what we want the V22 to do. I think, very significantly, you did not find a fundamental flaw with the technology, and then the cost issues that we have talked about, and when you start with that kind of broad parameter, then you get into the other recommendations. And that is kind of the way we need to think of it, too, I think, the bigger picture, and then get down into the specifics, and those specs need to be fixed.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Chairman asked one of my questions, and that was is there anything on this listand you all offered a number of recommendations, but is there anything that you believe can't be reasonably fixed? And you said, no, that all of these are solvable problems, as I understand it. Given the fact that there have been a number of other studies, are you reasonably sure that this is a fairly complete list of the issues which General Jones and Bell Textron need to look at?
General DAILEY. We believe it is, and the approach that we took with this review was to try to service every issue that is in existence on this program. And as I mentioned in my opening remarks, the number of agencies, individuals and associations that we have interviewed included having an open public meeting where anyone could come in and express concerns about the airplane. Our goal was to get our issue on the table so we could then go after each one and dotry to present a factual status and a recommendation based upon it.
We know of no issues that are being discussed or are in existence that we have not addressed.
Mr. THORNBERRY. General Jones, let me then turn to you. They do have a number of specific recommendations in here, and I realize that this report is fresh, and your folks haven't had time to look at it all. Are there any of these recommendations that you disagree with or that you think you need to study further before you implement?
General JONES. We don't have any disagreement at all with the findings of the panel. We are still reviewing and evaluating them. What our focus is now is how to take these very helpful suggestions and fold them into a plan that makes sense, that is affordable, that we can present to you for your support as well.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. THORNBERRY. In the course of that process, do you know yet what alet's see, I believe the term is minimum sustaining level of production would be, should be, while the continuing testing and restructuring is under way?
General JONES. That precise figure has not been arrived at yet. It is certainly one of the principle elements of the study, but as you know, there are so many different components of that determination, the maintenance of the prime contractors, the subs andbut I think the panel was fairly strong in its endorsement that we should see no break in the production line, and I would defer to members of the panel for a little bit more elucidation on that issue.
Mr. SPENCE. Mr. Augustine.
Mr. AUGUSTINE. Yes. We have consideration, of course, to stopping the program altogether until some of these issues and reliability and maintainability and the software and so on have been resolved. In my experience, one of the worst things you can do to a program is to break the production line. Not only does it cost a lot of money, but that was not the principal driver in this case. The principal driver is you often introduce more unreliability than you set out to solve when you break a line and try restart it,so that didn't seem to be the answer.
The reason we were fairly specific about minimum sustaining rate is in the past circumstances that other programs have faced similar to this one, it was suggested that the production be cut back. It is trimmed back a very minor amount, and that is not what we had in mind. We really do need the minimum sustaining rate to keep this line viable. Even that will be very disruptive, but there are things that could be done to minimize that disruption, we believe, including delaying further manufacturing of those particular parts of the aircraft that are going to require known changes.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. THORNBERRY. But as I take it, when you all look at this, you also say that once you get beyond this continued testing period, that you can make up for some of these costs by having a more efficient rate of production in the future; is that right?
Mr. AUGUSTINE. Assuming you have properly tooledor let me not say thatappropriately tooled an assembly line is, of course, ahead to build at a higher rate and build larger quantities. If the quantity can't be changed, a major impact could be had by building at a much higher rate once we know that problems are behind us. We think, one, that it will save money overall by slowing down, solving these problems and then building, rather than building more and then having to retrofit and solve problems.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Okay. May I ask you, while you have got the mike, Mr. Taylor was asking some questions about the acquisition process. One of the things that concerns me is how long it takes an acquisition process to get going, and with you having spent so much time looking at this issue, is it not part of what has happened here that it has taken so long to develop and feel the technology for a variety of reasons, that the aircraft that you need to be replaced are getting older and older and more expensive and falling out of the sky? So we putI mean, the system, I mean, puts pressure on itself to move things along. It seems to me that is just a natural consequence of where we have ended up. Do you agree or
Mr. AUGUSTINE. Well, I do, and Mr. Taylor was making an important point in that regard. One faces a dilemma that, on the one hand, it is certainly inappropriate to put systems into production that are not yet reliable and maintainable, and that is probably one of the biggest mistakes you can make. On the other hand, I am sure that General Jones and General Holland worry that there could be another Desert 1 sitting out there in the future, and they would certainly like to have a good, reliable V22 there to help. And so you have these conflicting pressures.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
When I began my career, the typical development time for an aircraft was a little over four years. Today the average is 9, 18 is not unheard of for many systems, and we really have let that go to a point that the technology tends to be obsolescent by the time you finish development. The systems are to be replaced, become very aged, and that is a problem. The acquisition system has not served this program particularly well.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Which is one of the findings that you all had in your report.
The other issue, it seems to me, is if you keep having competition, you have a competition, somebody wins, and then you come and have another competition, and then you have another competition. You still just keep pushing that down so that General Jones does not get his aircraft for years and years and years.
Mr. AUGUSTINE. Well, I am glad you raise that point again. My experience also has been that the threat of competition has an amazing ability to solve technical problems. Competition has great merit. The difficulty is that in today's budgets, we can barely afford to do one program right, let alone have a backup program.
I think in this case, one needs to pay particular attention, because it is a joint venture of two firms that is developing this aircraft.
Mr. AUGUSTINE. That is not necessarily a problem but it can be, and in this case I must say it has worked quite well, much better than I would have thought. On the other hand, it is very easy for the parent firms to sort of stand aside and say this is the joint venture's problem, and were I running this program for the government one of the first things I would do would be to call the CEO of Boeing and the CEO of Bell and say that although it is a joint venture we are going to have a meeting once a month and I would like to have you there. We will review this program with the senior leadership of the Defense Departmentnot the Defense Department, but the Navy, Marines and Air Force and have those CEOs there so they feel some of the pressure to be sure this program gets the attention that it really needs.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SPENCE. Gentleman from Arkansas, Mr. Snyder.
Mr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate you letting me participate today in the hearing even though I am not a member of the subcommittee. General Dailey, I wanted to ask, the comment about that the program lacked maturity, we have at least one staff member in the audience who comes from a Congressional District where one of the Marines that died in the one of the crashes is from. Now if I am one of those family members out there, I am going to right away say they were flying an immature plane. Would you spend some time, what does that mean? Is it predictable? Do we have to wait until there is a tragedy or accidents to say what if the program wasn't as mature? I mean what have we learned in terms of is maturity determined bythe program is mature until we decide it is not because it had an accident, or can you look at ongoing development of any platform or weapons system and make some assessments along the way, we think this one is progressing properly, or do we have to have the tragedy to reach those conclusions? Do you catch my drift?
General DAILEY. I do. There are indicators and there are ways to predict the maturity requirements in terms of how far you go and how much you do on a program, but nothing is as good as hindsight, and we have talked about the pressures that are in existence for any program to keep it moving. You can test forever and that costs you a lot of money and it may not be necessary. So the program manager and the people who are involved in making the decisions have to decide when is it you have had enough, and that is based upon a test plan that is approved prior to ever starting the program, with milestones and requirements that have to be met during that, and if they are not then major decisions have to be made. In fact, programs can be canceled as a result of failure to meet some of these.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
This program, as we mentioned, met all of its operational requirements, and actually in our report we say it flew as it was designed because the emphasis was on range, payload and speed, which were the primary drivers in the requirements for the airplane. The ''ilities,'' the reliability, maintainability, availability type of attention was not as great as it was on achieving the speed and range. That, for example, accounts for the density of the engine nacelle in order to get the streamlined configuration to reduce the drag so that you can get the range and the speed, they packed it in there. Had it been designed for access and maintainability, it would have been a bigger nacelle with bigger doors and better access.
So there are trades that are made and this airplane was traded for performance, and now we are recommending that we go back and take a look at these other, now the supportability, maintainability part of it. When we talk about maturity we are talking about expanding the flight envelope, for one thing, to make sure we do know more about what the characteristics are of this airplane. The flight envelope was expanded to the level that was considered to be necessary for the follow-on operational test and evaluation, and it resulted in a mishap that the aircraft got outside that envelope. We don't know where the actualwe knew it would flight up until the 40 knots and 800 feet per minute rate of descent, but we didn't know what it would do beyond that, and so that needs to be explored and find out what the limits really are on this program, and then we have recommended, for example, a warning device be installed in the aircraft when you approach that so that the crews, it tells them pay attention, you are getting close to a point where the airplane becomes a more urgent handling characteristic.
So maturity is a lot of things. It is the tech manuals being properly verified and validated. It is the software for the flight control system being revalidated and tested, and it is kind of build and test is what we are saying, make sure it works and test, test, test is really, I guess, what we are saying.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SNYDER. The V22 has a crew of three; is that correct?
General DAILEY. Yes, sir.
Mr. SNYDER. Now in both crashes there were more than three fatalities on board, one had four and one had 19. Now perhaps that was part of what you all's mandate was, but I would assume that an evaluation of the maturity of the program would be at what point, I guess hindsight, we would say we should not have been doing those kinds of operations at that point because the program wasn't mature enough. Did you look at that at all or have any suggestions for the future as far as when we start going beyond the crew of three or maybe need four to do the evaluation of the flight characteristics?
General DAILEY. That is part of our recommendation. That was a production aircraft in an operational test and evaluation, which is part of the follow-on, the development, and testers find out what the airplane will do and then they pass it over to the operators and they decide how it will work in terms of meeting the operational requirements. So it was part of the master test plan, as I talked about, and the fact that it was a production airplane leads you to believe that we knew enough to fly it under those conditions. So the people who made the decisions there were basing it on all the information they had up till that point.
We have recommended that it not beas the program comes back into operation, that even additional care be given to deciding when it is time to put the Marines in the back. The purpose of thisthis airplane carries Marines to combat, and so they arethat is the weapons system for this helicopter, or this tiltrotor. So it is a case of now deciding when they have to be in there for them to get their training and for the air crew to get theirs. In this case it was an event that required troops to be in there so everyonethey demonstrated the operational requirement that was laid on the airplane. So the people who made those decisions did it based on the best information they had and it was a requirement to be doing that at that time.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SNYDER. You mentioned several times how things were compacted and that chafing was a problem and I am not a mechanical engineer of any kind, but it seems to me that the chafing would either be predictable or observable. Am I wrong?
General DAILEY. You are right, and in this case it was neither, because one of the things, and another recommendation of the report, is there needs to be greater access to the internal nacelle in terms of being able to preflight and view it so you can seefor example, the hydraulic line that failed was not viewable from the inspection port that is available on the nacelle. But they are using titanium and this tube is 22-thousandths of an inch thick. So it is very thin and chafing doesn't have to be very great before you now take a considerable margin away from the strength of it. Now this will be part of redesign. They are going to have to figure out whether titanium is the right thing to use, whether that is the right thickness, whether they routed it in the right direction.
Also, one of the major factors here, these fasteners that hold both the hydraulic lines and the electrical bundles are failing. They are essentially epoxied, glued to the composite material and they have been coming loose. So that has enabled the chafing to take place. Had they been properly installed and not failed, then they probably would not have had this problem.
Mr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SPENCE. Thank you. Mrs. Heather Wilson.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I had several questions. Perhaps I will start out with General Jones, if I could. This panel has recommended a delay in the procurement of the V22 and I guess I would like to ask you, do you think that the operational deployment of the V22 can take place before your fleet of helicopters reaches the end of its useful life?
General JONES. Congresswoman Wilson, I think that it will place additional strain on the legacy systems, but it is a fact of life we have been living with for quite a while. I think, if I understand the general parameters of the time frame that we are looking at, I have heard on the optimistic side one year, on the pessimistic side two years, to do all of these things. But that is very, very preliminary, and we need to get into that with more fidelity. But if that is the range of the time frame we are looking at, then I think we can probably make do with our existing systems for that much longer.
Mrs. WILSON. When the panel met to look at the V22 and make recommendations, then what alternatives are there? I suppose you could do some kind of additional service life extension on your helicopters but I don't know how longwhat real options do you have in front of you other than let's load this down and spread it out?
General JONES. At this point I don't think we have another option that I would be comfortable in recommending. From a technology standpoint, the only options would be to take a step backwards in technology, which is a little bit counter to the way the transformation of our armed services are going. We want to take advantage of technology and we want to be able to leap ahead and make sure we have that operational advantage that technology is going to give the total force, not just aviation.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mrs. WILSON. General, if you could excuse me for a second, that question was actually addressed to the panel members. In making your recommendations to the Marine Corps, what choice did you really have? And Mr. Augustine, could you maybe start that out, having been in these things a little before?
Mr. AUGUSTINE. I would be glad to. There are several categories of possibility. One is to extend the life of the existing aircraft, the CH46 and the CH53 and so on. If one does that, it is probably expensive, probably expensive to maintain, and you have an aircraft that will perform some of the mission but certainly not the more difficult parts of the mission. So to us that didn't seem like a very good solution. There are other aircraft, one existing aircraft that one could modify and bring into this mission, the Blackhawk and others we have heard mentioned. They, too, fall far short of performing this mission. Another alternative is to begin an all new development of a brand new aircraft, and here my experience has been over the years that almost every program I am aware of has encountered technical problems at one point or another, even the best managed ones, and stopping those programs to start a new program is usually a mistake because you trade problems you know for problems you don't yet know of, with two caveats.
One is if there is a fundamental flaw in the concept, then you ought to stop, and the other is if there is a question about the need, then you clearly should stop, and I would footnote that option with saying that I don't believe any of us on the panel are aware of any new technology that would give us an aircraft that would be likely to be any better or to have any greateror, excuse me, any lesser problems than we are currently contending with. And then the final option is the V22, but a reliable, maintainable V22, not the one we have today.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mrs. WILSON. Following on that just as a final question, there is some unique challenges associated with this tiltrotor design that don't exist either with regular aircraft or with helicopters and, being over 40 now, my eyesight is not good enough, General Jones, to see if you have got flight wings on your lapel there, but I am sure some of you are engineers. I know at least one of you is and I guess I would like to know from your point of view, from an engineering point of view, are you and the members of the panel or those of you in uniform there confident that with more work some of the inherent challenges of tiltrotor aircraft can be overcome? And I am not sure exactly who I am asking, but anybody can answer.
Mr. COVERT. Let me make a shot at that, Mrs. Wilson. I think that there is no doubt that the tiltrotor, although it can be made to work and to work as planned, I think that in the long run there is no doubt that the maintenance man-hours per mission can be reduced to the level that is acceptable, and the reason I have this degree of confidence is because the factors that we have uncovered don't seem to be any show stoppers. In other words, the bringing of the titanium tube by the electrical wire cable harness, if proper fasteners exist, and I know they do, and are installed properly, then the problem of chafing will go away. Just to make sure that this is the case, we have suggested that perhaps there should be additional tests in the nacelle now of the vibration, the noise level, the acoustics and the temperature just to satisfy ourselves that the design specifications are adequate. Often in a cramped space like that, the situation is different than the designer originally points at
Mrs. WILSON. I guess I am not asking so much about the hydraulic problem and the chafing problem and the ability to see it on the inside of the maintenance spaces, but some of the things that I see identified in the testimony here of the unique safety challenges, poor auto rotation performance, propensity for rapid development of a high sink rate, lower response to Vortex Ring State (VRS), things that are unique to the tiltrotor design, and I guess my question is really, are you confident that design modifications or improved operational procedures can overcome those inherent safety challenges?
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. COVERT. I think thatsorry I misunderstood your question previously. I think that the high rate of descent is both an advantage and a disadvantage in that the high rate of descent implies that it is more difficult to get into the vortex ring state. I think that on the other hand the high rate of descent has within its own seeds of trouble. However, if the testing we recommend proceeds, the envelope will become properly define d, and we will be able to teach people what is safe flying and when not to fly. I think that the key to this whole thing is to get the right information on the safe flight envelope, get it into the training program, get it into the manuals so that the pilots do not get themselves in a situation where they are so far out of the envelope that they are at peril.
General DAVIS. Congresswoman Wilson, I would like to comment on the auto rotation. I mean the aircraft flies 70 percent of its time in airplane mode and only 30 percent of the time in auto rotation. Because of the disloading, and I am a fighter pilot so they had to teach me this, but I understand it, the disloading is so large on this airplane its ability to get up enough energy to do auto rotation is very difficult. So it is problematic that you will be able to complete an auto rotation all the time, whereas you could probably complete even an engine outlanding in airplane mode most of the timeI won't say 100 percent but most of the time. So if the auto rotation probability is much less, you know, no helicopter can land like an airplane, and no airplane can land like a helicopter, but this particular aircraft has the capability of doing both under extreme conditions. So the auto rotation, when you compare it to a helicopter, is not as good because we have had to take those tiltrotors and make them a little smaller and a little less weighty so it doesn't develop the inertia to land. But I think you give people in this airplane a better chance of survival because it can do it both ways. So I don't view the auto rotation problem question as a very significant one.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mrs. WILSON. General, did you have anything you wanted to add?
General JONES. Just to clarify that I do not wear wings on my chest, which accounts for why there are so many people with wings behind me, because they are visibly nervous having an infantryman defend an aviation program.
Mrs. WILSON. I can understand their reluctance, sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SPENCE. Thank you. Gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. McIntyre.
Mr. MCINTYRE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank all of you for being here, and as I am sure General Jones remembers, I had the opportunity to accompany him to New River Air Station for the memorial service last April when we lost our Marines in the Arizona crash. Also, the year before that, two years ago now this month, I had the opportunity to be in the V22 simulator right after it was first installed at New River Air Station. So these last two Aprils and now three Aprils, including this one, have been ones that have made quite an impression on me with the V22 program.
The panel review, as you have stated, says that you are delaying recommending the program continue but delay full rate production decision until the reliability, maintainability, sustainability, safety problems have been solved and tested. General Jones, you mentioned that you wanted in your testimony to come back to us with a plan that made sense, to use your words, and following up on the Congresswoman's questions was part of what I was going to ask. You said maybe one year or two years. Would that include your hope that all four of those areas have been solved and tested? Is that what you are looking at?
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
General JONES. I would hope so during that period, and this is based on previous discussion with the panel as a broad framework, but again very tentative at this time.
Mr. MCINTYRE. All right. Well, on page 10 and 11 of your statement that you have submitted today you mention that there are specified entrance and exit criteria for each of the phases of testing. Would you have to go through all five phases that are listed before you would be at that point to still proceed with full rate production recommendation or to, as you said, walk away, or would any one of those phases, phase one, phase two, which each has their own entrance and exit, would be a time a tough decision could be made if it was not favorable? Do you feel like you have to go through all five phases or do you feel like at any one of those we may be at the point where we realize that a tougher decision has to be made early on?
General JONES. I think in the main you want to be as prudent as you possibly can and that is why in my opening remarks I said this should be vendor and advice time line driven.
Mr. MCINTYRE. Right.
General JONES. But I think in each phase we want to wring this out very carefully, particularly when you are dealing withwell, the central problem is one of engineering. It is not associated with the technology. So the focus is clearly in the packing of the nacelles and in the configuration of the technology in the nacelle. So it is primarily an engineering function. But I would, just initial observation, I would go through the phases as sequentially as you could to make sure you got it right. I wouldn't advocate any shortcuts.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. MCINTYRE. So when you say entrance and exit for each phase then, when you say exit, you don't mean necessarily exit from the Osprey program?
General JONES. No. I mean exit with hopefully a successful exit strategy.
Mr. MCINTYRE. All right. The other part of this recommendation was that the production be kept at the minimum sustaining rate. What would you say is the minimum sustaining rate as we begin to struggle with what to do in the meantime? I know you have already had several questions from my colleagues about what we could do in terms of the type of helicopters we would need to keep up, but how would you define that as minimum sustaining rate or is that going to have to evolve over one to two years and then after that we are all in trouble if we don't know how long we have got to keep sustaining it?
General JONES. I think the right number will be available within a short period of time, matter of weeks. There is just so many factors that have to be considered both in industry and in our own, the military side of the house. But I think that number, that will be a number that we will be able to determine fairly quickly. So, as Mr. Augustine and other members of the panel pointed out, we don't want to break on a line, and we need to make sure that subcontractors and primes aren't disadvantaged unnecessarily, and so we have to keep it going. At the same time we know we are going to have to reinduct aircraft to have the fixes performed on the aircraft that have already been produced. So it is a question of finding that right number, but this will not take long to figure out.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MCINTYRE. Would you be able to have that sent over to our committee as soon as you can to help us?
General JONES. Oh, absolutely.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. MCINTYRE. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SPENCE. Thank you. Mr. Kirk.
Mr. KIRK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to make sure we all agree that the V22 shouldn't be the car that kills everyone on the way to the prom, but I am very aware of the price and accidents paid in developing something new. Anybody there on the panel have a sense of the number of accidents or developmental problems we have had in other cutting edge aviation problems, like the AV8B or the F15?
Mr. AUGUSTINE. We have some actual statistics, which I think General Davis is looking up, but it is possible to name many, many programs that turned out to be extremely effective that unfortunately had long strings of failures early in their life, way beyond anything the V22 has experienced, and those successful programs would include everything from the Sidewinder to the Polaris to the F117 to the Apollo precursor missions, and so on. In this case, as is often happenstance, the thing that one was most worried about; namely, a fundamental aerodynamic problem with the tiltrotor concept, didn't happen. It was the more mundane but still tragic things that go wrong in flying machines.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Qualitatively, the answer would be that as compared with other more recent developments the accident rate for the V22 is pretty much in family, unfortunately. In other words, it is fairly much typical of what we have seen. It is much better than we experienced in the 1960s and the 1970s. That caused at least me to ask, well, why do we have so much attention on this and so much concern? I think part of the reason is you are dealingwe are dealing with a fundamental new concept here and, second, when you lose an F16 or an F18, you lose one or two pilots, which is tragic enough, but you don't have 19 Marines riding in the back, and that just has to multiply the stakes.
Why don't I ask General Davis, since he has the data right here, to give you some actual numbers?
Mr. KIRK. Thank you.
General DAVIS. As Mr. Augustine has pointed out several times, is that to capturewhen we went back to try to capture the data, they kept data differently in the past, but compared to current programs that had about the same maturation, the F14 you know had an accident rate of 79. The F16 had an accident rate of 50.
Mr. KIRK. By that meaning we lost 79 platforms?
General DAVIS. No, sir. That is 79 and a hundred thousand hours. The F18 was 61 and of course the V22 is 77. So as Mr. Augustine said, you know every program we have had has had early problems, and this one is in parametrics of the process.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. KIRK. Two other questions. One is the remotely piloted vehicle field allows us to fly a vehicle without a pilot or a crew. It is becoming better and better. It would seem we could have production values of V22 with some of that technology and just fly the hell out of it without any loss of life.
General DAVIS. We have lost a lot of our Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) both in test and actualbeing a pilot, I have a little bit of problem with that because they haven't made a UAV that can run its internal computer as well as a pilot can in a combat situation.
Mr. KIRK. Okay.
Mr. AUGUSTINE. If I might just add to that as a nonpilot. I think UAVs do have important possibilities. The difficulty one has for this mission is that, as someone remarked, the armament system on this aircraft are the Marines you are trying to put into combat and so for this particular mission probably UAV by and large isn't in the cards, although that is not to
Mr. KIRK. No, I was actually just think of using the control technology to fly the bejesus out of the V22 platform and get all this worked out.
Mr. AUGUSTINE. I suspect we are not quite there to do that yet with the complexity of the aircraft, but there are things you can do. For example, the early test models had ejection seats and for some of the flight testing that will be done. Particularly the VRS, that sort of thing is very appropriate.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. COVERT. I think that, sir, if you look into the expense of developing the technology and the computers and the servo systems and all that is required to replace the man, you probably would come to the conclusion that it might be more expensive than it is worth. Certainly, these test airplanes, if I recall correctly, had ejection seats in them, which is sort of a semi-security device, but we looked into this briefly in the space shuttle and it turned out that you probably can't do what you want to do with automatic control equipment.
Mr. KIRK. I know. In my own experience it was always nice to fly with Mr. Martin and Mr. Baker beneath my derriere.
And then last on the civilian potential for this technology. Has that dimmed or do we still have interest by potential regional airline players in this technology?
General DAVIS. Sir, if I might take that, you know, I kind of view this airplane as a national asset. First of all, no other country has it. Secondarily, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has flat run out of runways with the advancement of the different airlines, and this particular aircraft could provide a low noise entrance commuter type operation that doesn't need a runway to land on or at least not a very long one, and in the future, with aviation expanding at the rate it is, I think it will be a great national asset.
Second, I see it for foreign sales, it ought to be a boon to the United States economy.
Mr. KIRK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SPENCE. Mr. Skelton.
Mr. SKELTON. Thank you very much. General Jones, as we speak, what are the limitations put upon the Marine Corps as regards to airlift?
General JONES. Technical, sir? The limitations are that really associated with aging inventory, starting with UH1s, AH1s, CH46, CH53 deltas. We have programs of modernization in the case of the AH1 and the UH1, for plaited conversion program s and significant mission upgrades that will solve that problem for us. In the case of the 46 and the 53, the answer for medium lift is the V22 and then the CH53 echo, which is not an old aircraft but it sooner or later will have to be addressed.
If I could mention in passing that all Services have expressed a verbal requirement to get into tiltrotor technology, even beyond the V22, with a larger tiltrotor for example; some call it a quad-tiltrotor. The preliminary assessment by the scientific community is that it is not technologically risky and the industrial base says we could produce that if we so desired, but when you are seriously considering widespread transformation across the Services in the 21st century, a larger tiltrotor capability would significantly aid the Army, the Air Force and the Marines.
Mr. SKELTON. What is the average age of the C46 and C47?
General JONES. 30.8 years.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SPENCE. Thank you. Mr. Maloney.
Mr. MALONEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. What I would like to do is address two questions to General Dailey, I think, specifically. The first question, sir, is the V22 basically applied technology? It seeks to have certain capabilities and performance and undertake a certain set of missions as defined by the Marine Corps but it is only one technology. In your review of the situation, did you look at other possible technological approaches? For example, there are other vertical and short takeoff kinds of aircraft flying, the Harrier comes to mind. Have you looked at other ways of solving the same set ofof meeting the same set of requirements?
General DAILEY. Yes, sir, we did, but we only looked at existing aircraft, not to be developed. As Mr. Augustine has pointed out, to compare a paper airplane to an existing capability was something that we did not do during this and found that the V22, of all the alternatives that is available, is the only aircraft capable of meeting the requirement that is stated for both Special Operations demand and the Marine Corps. There are other helicopters that could do parts of the mission but V22 is the only one that could do the entire mission.
Mr. MALONEY. Right. I understand your point but your point, what your answer really is, is, well, we looked at what was flying and this is the only thing that comes close to meeting the requirements that we have and so we are not going to look further than that, we are only going the look at what is flying. I hear what you are saying. I just am going to say that I think that is a very constrained point of view ofa very constrained way of looking at a problem and I think that we are going to have to pursue that in a more wide open look at some other opportunity.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The second question I have is that given the recommendations that you pose here, there is clearly going to be a change, even if this system goes forward, there is going to be a change in the way in which it goes forward, the timing, the delivery of the ultimate product, et cetera. What do we do in the meantime? What are your recommendations for what we do this year to achieve some of the capability that the V22 would otherwise produce for us?
General DAILEY. We didn't make a specific recommendation in that regard. If I may go back to the first question, there is an additional analysis that was tasked parallel to our effort by the Program and Analysis and Evaluation Group in DOD. They are doingin fact, they provided us with the numbers for the inclusion in our report on the cost alternatives and the performance alternatives of existing or available aircraft that are being developed. So that perhaps will meet the requirements of what you are looking for, sir.
The alternatives to meet the day-to-day requirements right now are with the CH46 and the CH53D. In terms of that we didn't address the operational situation for the Marine Corps or Special Operations Command in the near term and how they would meet it. It was only for if we didn't do the V22 what were the alternatives and what were the capabilities of alternative platforms.
Mr. MALONEY. So I guess just to draw a quick conclusion from that for our committee, if the V22 deployment schedule is altered and stretched out to some uncertain time and date, we are going to have to look at what that means in terms of our authorization and recommendations in regard to procurement of other ways of filling the need that the V22 represents, an express need of the Marine Corps?
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
General DAILEY. If that is the committee's decision yes, sir.
Mr. MALONEY. Thank you, sir.
Mr. SPENCE. Thank you. I have been listening to all these questions about needs, requirements, missions and all those kind of things, and I don't know that you have really spelled that out for some of our members. They don't seem to know what those are. Isn't it getting more people faster and a longer distance, or am I wrong, General Jones?
General JONES. Sir, you are correct. I mean it is a capability that allows us to go considerably farther, faster, with a better payload and under safer conditions by a wide margin. This is notthis is an exponential departure from the technology afforded by helicopters. This is a leap ahead.
Mr. SPENCE. And maybe you can answer, General Davis, somebody, but back when the decision was made to go with the V22, was there a flier for a competitor or something, an alternative at that time?
General JONES. There have been seven different cost and operational effectiveness analyses that have been conducted over time, and each time all known competitors were evaluated against the V22 and the requirement, and each time these independent analyses concluded that the V22 is the way to go.
Mr. SPENCE. They weren't tiltrotor though, were these others?
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
General JONES. No. Well, there were other offers initially that wanted to compete in the tiltrotor business, but Bell and Boeing were the selected primes.
Mr. SPENCE. Yes, Mr. Augustine.
Mr. AUGUSTINE. Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to footnote General Dailey's comments that while our panel did not go out and seek specific new design concepts nor did we try to design new aircraft ourselves, we talked to many people that were working at the forefront of the state of the art in this field, Professor Covert would be one, and in speaking with those people, we found no new concept that was significantly more promising than what we are trying to make work today.
Mr. SPENCE. And General Holland, you want to say something about that?
General HOLLAND. Yes, sir. Let me make two comments and maybe the best way is to do it by example. Number one, from a Special Operations standpoint, we have not wavered in our requirement since 1981. So this requirement has been very solid and obviously after the Desert Storm hostage rescue attempt it was very clear to us that we needed to have the ability to go a long distance in one period of darkness or we would not be in or have the element of surprise on our side.
Number two, the great opportunity that this also gives to us is the ability for self-deployment. As you well know, Special Operations is worldwide and a lot of times the distance works against us. The current systems, whether it be an MH47 or an MH60 or an MH53, we have to deploy them by C5 transport to a location, and of course all of those helicopters have to be prepared, and in the case of the 47s and the 53s it is significant. In fact, you need a crane to be able to tear the helicopter down and also to build it up once you get to the forward location.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So you can see the time that is involved, plus having the maintainers to go forward to rebuild the helicopter so that it can be prepared for the next flight, versus a CV22 that once a deployment order that comes in that we can fly to the target at over 2,100 miles with one inflight refueling, and that is for self-deployment. So that for us is a great advantage. So then we can bring all of our teams to that location and then marshal and then continue on to the target versus the way we have to wait now. We have to wait to get the helicopter to that location, which takes us time, and time in our business is sometimes the difference between success and failure.
Mr. SPENCE. Thank you and I think that adds a lot to our discussion, what both you and General Jones just said, and anyway I will reserve my remarks for later on. Mrs. Wilson wants to ask some more questions.
Mrs. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Holland, is Aflotech testing the Air Force version for the Special Ops mission?
General HOLLAND. Yes, ma'am. The Aflotech, because the first four of our birds are purchased by the Air Force, and as you well know, we are not into thepart of the program management is accomplish ed by the Navy and the Marines and then the Air Force then provides the bulk of our support and we then, working very closely with the Air Force, continue on, but Aflotech is involved with the testing.
Mrs. WILSON. Are you doingthere was Navy command operational test and evaluation report in November of 2000. Was the data provided by the Air Force or did the Navy do that test and evaluation? Who did the operational test and evaluation?
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
General DAVIS. Could you repeat that again for me?
Mrs. WILSON. There was a Navy operational test and evaluation report in November of 2000 and also a DOD operational test and evaluation recommendation, also in November. Were those Navy or were they Air Force? Who is doing the operational test and evaluation of those aircraft?
General DAILEY. It was a joint report from Aflotech and Operational Command (OPCOM) 204.
Mrs. WILSON. I notice in those conclusions that the one that I have described as NavyI thought the Air Force was involved. So I wanted to clarify that. But the one in the Navy concluded on the 15th of November that it is operationally effective and suitable and the DOD almost simultaneous said it is operationally effective but it is not suitable because of maintainability, sustainability, all of those ''ility'' problems. Is that, in your collective experience or individual experience, is that unusual to have DOD operational test and evaluation come up with a completely different conclusion at the same time?
General DAILEY. It has happened. I have had experience where that has happened before. In this case the panel agrees with Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) that it is operationally effective but not suitable based upon the supportability of the aircraft at this time.
Mrs. WILSON. In the testimony or the summary of your recommendation was that this should continue at a minimum sustaining level until this can be all sorted out and the engineering can be fixed. What is a minimum sustaining level?
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
General DAILEY. It is that which keeps the workforce in place so that you don't lose the learning curve that has already been developed on the manufacturing of this aircraft. It is an unknown number to us at this point because there are many factors that have to be considered, but as Mr. Augustine mentioned earlier, we gave serious consideration to recommending shutting down the line, and our concerns are two. One is to free up the money to develop the engineering change proposal for the production configuration and the funding required to do that, but the other one is not to havehave as few airplanes as possible that are manufactured in the wrong configuration so as to reduce the retrofit requirements. Those were the two drivers that we were most concerned about.
Mrs. WILSON. General Jones, you may not have crunched these numbers yet, but what does a minimum sustaining level mean to you?
General JONES. Well, you are correct, we are doing that right now. We are taking the panel's recommendations and trying to ascertain exactly what that number is.
Mrs. WILSON. Also, a question for you, General. What is the relationship like at the moment between the DOD and the Marine Corps and the contractors? Are there any strains or problems there that could further impact this program?
General JONES. I think the relationship is fine. All elements are very supportive. I think we are focused on coming up, now that we have athanks to the work of the panela clearer picture of the way ahead and what we need to do to see what the best way to proceed is, but I think the working relationships are very solid.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mrs. WILSON. There isn't any tension with respect to what this pause will mean financially, who has got what obligations, what change orders, whose fault, those kinds of things that often come up?
General JONES. Well, we still have the DOD IG that is completing its investigation and of course getting past that point will be very important for everybody concerned, but I think people are anxious to from the squadron on up throughout DOD, the Secretariat of the Navy, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marine Corps, I think what we want to do is give our men and women in uniform the best possible piece of equipment with which they can succeed in their very difficult missions, and I think we are focused on that.
Mrs. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SPENCE. Thank you, ma'am. Mr. Taylor.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Jones, in your testimony you mentioned that there were four class A mishaps over 10 years, but two of them occurred within 7 months and that is actually within the last year or so. You contrast that with the development of the CH46 when you said there were 44 mishaps. I guess what I would like to know for the record is how many of those 44 in the CH46 were class A mishaps? Second question would be 44 mishaps out of how many operational aircraft versus these two out of how many operational V22s?
Second thing that troubles me, and General, I am certainly not here, and I want to make this perfectly clear, to give you a hard time. I am a member of the committee that authorized the purchase of those helicopters and therefore I am equally culpable if there is any culpability out there. I am troubled by my share of that culpability, I have got to tell you. With that in mind, if there is another disaster, and Secretary Cheney, who tried once to cancel this program and who did succeed in cancelling the A12 programI happened to be sitting over there when that happened; he walked in and said it is overwhat is plan B and what funding, if any, has been set aside for a plan B?
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
General JONES. Well, plan B would be, I think as the panel has explained, the plan B is to take a step backwards in terms of technology. We would certainly have to go back to the helicopters. It would mean starting up, selecting the right helicopters and maybe even opening up another line, as was suggested earlier, of a combination of helicopters. It means possibly adjusting end strength to train the mechanics that would have to sustain the new lines, but I think the biggest downside of the plan B is the step backwards, and I hope we don't have to do that, but as I said in my opening statement, if this turns out not to be the right thing I will be the first one to sit here and recommend plan B and flesh it out for you.
Mr. TAYLOR. General Dailey and Mr. Augustine, Mr. Augustine in particular, I noticed a look on your face. Is there something you
Mr. AUGUSTINE. No. I guess the thought that was going through my mind as the General was speaking is that any plan B I know of is so unattractive that it puts a premium on making this aircraft work. At the same time, the lesson to be learned is don't get something in production and in operation until it is reliable and maintainable.
Mr. TAYLOR. Yes, sir. General Davis.
General DAVIS. Sir, you know I think probably my two colleagues on our left are reluctant to bring it up, but both the Marine Corps and the Air Force have given up forestructure already in the plan. If you went back to plan B, you would have to somehow add that back in, and secondarily, you would have to probably produce more tankers to help them get there. You increase your visibility when you do that mission, and so the plan B is really not very good and we tried to cost it out but the numbers just became a bit elusive to us. A plan B would be a very expensive process also.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, gentlemen.
Mr. SPENCE. Mr. Thornberry.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just had a couple of questions for the folks who are in the hearing today that are not seated at the table. I would like to ask the representative from the General Accounting Office if you have had a chance to look at this report and whether you disagree with any of it.
Ms. SCHINASI. I have not reviewed the report, the final report, in depth, but we have gone through the slides that the panel presented at their open briefing and for the most part, as far as we know, we agree with the condition that they have laid out for this program.
Mr. THORNBERRY. So far as you know, do you have any major disagreements with recommendations of the panel?
Ms. SCHINASI. I think that we would want to look at some of the individual recommendations that they raise in terms of the impact on a lot of unanswered questions that you have put out today that have to do with the cost of doing this and the time that is associated with it. I think what we would want to see is the Osprey program on a different footing as it moves forward from today than it has been in the past. There have been pressures in the program to meet schedule. There have been tests and other knowledge that has not been gained because of cost pressures as well, and so as we move forward I would look at the recommendations in that light in terms of, you know, is the program going to be put on a footing that will allow it to succeed.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. THORNBERRY. Fair questions, but I guess those are really not any issues directly addressed by the panel. Those depend on how the Marines and others choose to restructure the program and move forward.
Mr. Chairman, the only thing that I would have is I would be interested in hearing from the Marine pilot and crew chief who came up to be with us and I would beafter having sat through and listened to lots of the questions and comments that have been made today, I would be interested in their perspective on this aircraft and how we should go forward.
Major HECKLLE. I have to say, sir, I never thought there would be a day where I would see my Commandant move out of the way so I could take his seat. Sir, I am available for any questions that you may have.
Mr. THORNBERRY. I just wanted to give you the opportunity there. Now, you have flown the V22; is that correct?
Major HECKLLE. Yes, sir. I am a formerI am a CH46 pilot with about 2,500 hours in that aircraft. Came to the V22 and just prior to the mishap in December, the accident where we lost some good Marines. I was one of the new and designated aircraft commanders.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Based on the fact that you have lost some comrades in this aircraft and you have listened to the discussion back and forth about how we proceed, tell me how you feel about this aircraft and how we ought to move forward.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Major HECKLLE. Well, sir, I have never done anything like this before, and I am certainly not used to this kind of forum. I am an operator. I am a pilot. I am used to being deployed and doing things that Marines do with guys like Staff Sergeant Fowler right next to me. So this is unusual to me. If I had my druthers I would like to see the problems get flushed out, and particularly those like the software anomaly, and get airborne again because what we do is we fly airplanes, we deploy, so that when you call on us we are there, and we fix airplanes. I think it is important for everybody to understand that in the previous two accidents, all four aviators and the crew chiefs, I was personal friends with all of them, and it is, you know, a big deal to us. I don't think they would have made the sacrifices they made if they thought this thing was anything less than the answer and what we need, and the way forward, sir, is to listen to what the panel said, to listen to the Commandant. We are standing ready to execute tomorrow if you told me to, but we are ready to fly airplanes, and that is what we want to do, sir.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Sergeant, have you been involved in maintaining the V22 so far?
Sergeant FOWLER. Yes, sir. I am crew chief under training. I have got about 20 flight hours in the V22 and some maintenance experience, gone through school. One of the main issues I keep hearing, sir, is the maintainability. As a representative of the maintainers, the Marines and the Airmen of 204, one of our major concerns the panel brought up earlier is all the other new systems that came along with the V22; in other words, the maintenance, where we might be used to a regular maintenance manual, now we have the electronic based systems, the computer systems that we log all of our maintenance actions on. All of those from our aspect, from our standpoint, have contributed in the perception of the lack of maintainability or reliability. Those concerns we would definitely like to see addressed, the hydraulic chafing obviously along with the software, and maybe some accessibility as far as the fasteners, like some of the gentlemen on the panel brought up, changing those out. But for the most part I will echo what the Major said, the Marines and Airmen of 204 and the civilian counterparts for Bell-Boeing we stand by ready to prove to the Nation, to Congress and the Senate that this is definitely the aircraft of the future.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. THORNBERRY. Do you have any doubt that those problems you mentioned can be fixed?
Sergeant FOWLER. Not at all, sir, which brings me to another point, that the Commandant arranged for several of us from 204 to go to the Bell-Boeing factories in Philadelphia and in Amarillo, which I hadn't had an opportunity to do, and it was a real eye opening experience and I believe it was you, ma'am, that asked the question about the teamwork. It was unbelievable. All their engineers, the CEO of Bell Helicopter was there, and every one of them. They have already shown a lot of designs for how they can fix the lines, how they are working with the software, and I walked away with a great feeling that not only the Marines of 204 and the Marine Corps and the Air Force but Bell-Boeing is also doing everything I believe that they can.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Well, let me thank you all for answering my questions and thank you also for serving us all. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. COVERT. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SPENCE. Dr. Covert.
Mr. COVERT. I would like, sir, to build on what has been said about the maintenance activities there. I don't know whether it is common knowledge or not, but what we have at 204 is we have a brand new type of airplane. It is both a helicopter and an airplane and it is neither and we have to learn to do that right.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Second thing, the airplane has a brand new health monitoring and engine diagnostic system in the airplane that provides data for the maintainers to come out. It is brand new, two brand new things at once. We also have a new digital publication system, the pilots' handbook and the maintainers' handbook. It is not the pile of paper that has been around in the past. It is new, it is digital, and that is another key thing. It is new. These things do not play well together yet, and I think that we have to recognize two things. Part of the maintenance problems comes from the fact that we are trying to do three new things at once on a new airplane and, if anything, why, the maintainers down there, in my view, are doing a simply outstanding job under terribly difficult circumstances because they are trying to learn new things, get the bugs out of those and at the same time satisfy their mission.
Mr. COVERT. And I think that we owe them a great deal for the pain that they are putting in to get that.
Mr. SPENCE. Thank you, Doctor. I am glad you added that. I was just about to ask you that question, because I have a lot of respect for your background and your ability, and you are what you call a scientist, and people like you always amaze me. You know what these thingswhether it can be made to work or not, and in your opinion, from an aeronautical standpoint, can this machine be fixed and made to work?
Mr. COVERT. Yes, sir.
Mr. SPENCE. That is what I want to know, and, you know, unlike a lot of people in this town, I don't know everything, but I know a lot of people who do, and if you folks who know thingsI can't take your word, but I don't know whose word to take, and as far as I am concerned, we have got the best right out there now. I know of you and all of you and your reputations and your backgrounds, and I respect it, and if you don't know whether it won't work, we are in bad shape.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
But I want to ask one final question of anyone else sitting on the back row there, who I would guess todayfrom other agencies and so forth, if you have anything you would like to add to what has been said? As we say somewhere, speak now, or forever hold your peace.
Mr. FRAME. Yeah. I am Lee Frame, the Acting Director of OT&E.
Mr. SPENCE. Yes, sir.
Mr. FRAME. We have seen the panel's report, and we pretty much agree with everything we have seen. We haven't read it in detail, but all the briefings and the other things pretty much are consistent with recommendations we have made to the panel. So we think that thatif those recommendations are followed throughand there is a lot of detailed work yet to do to make that happen, but I think I am confident that this can move along.
Mr. SPENCE. Thank you, Mr. Frame. I had a note to ask you specifically about that. I am glad you didyou got up yourself without me having to call on you.
Anyone else? Yes, ma'am, right back there in the middle?
Mrs. GRUBER. I am Mrs. Brooks Gruber.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SPENCE. Brooks.
Mrs. GRUBER. Brooks Gruber. He was the copilot of the Osprey during the April 8th accident in Marana, Arizona. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak.
Mr. SPENCE. Yes, ma'am.
Mrs. GRUBER. This is a picture of him, 34 years old. This is one of the last pictures with his daughter. He saw her last when she was 6 months old when he left for the deployment of the Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL) testing. The child was 8 months at the time of the accident.
There have been some people here today to talk on behalf of the pilots and the crew that are not here, and I agree that they would want to move forward with the program, and I do not want their deaths to be in vain, and I speak for all the families, the wives, the parents. But I think we need to remember that these men paid the ultimate price, and if we don't address these serious problems fully, then they truly would have died in vain.
And I think my husband would prefer to be here with his daughter today, and I would like for all these men that are willing to be so courageous and put their lives on the line, that is noble, and as an American I appreciate that, but it is an entirely different matter to put your life on the line for a program that has been rushed, for an immature aircraft that they never should have been flying in. I would like somebody to answer for that. I would like some accountability.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I would like to publicly say that my husband, Major Brooks Gruber, Lieutenant Colonel John Brow and that crew, Staff Sergeant Brian Nelson, Corporal Kelly Keith, they are the only men that hold responsibility for that accident in Marana, Arizona. I would like for that to be explained more fully to me, especially after hearing what this panel has had to say regarding the fact that they never should have been asked to do that mission that night. They shouldn't have been flying that night, shouldn't have had those brave soldiers that were in the back that also put their lives on the line, 15 of them that depended on the safety of that aircraft that night.
I just ask that you please make the right decisions regarding this program. I think this is a very long wish list, and I don't understand the time frame here. I know that we have been working on the Osprey since the 1990s or maybe before. I would like to know what improvements have been made, why do we still have this great loss of life. I don't understand the comparison of aircraft that are 40 years old. This aircraft is supposed to be such a great technical marvel, why this high loss of lives? I don't understand that.
Again, I would just like to thank you for this opportunity. I am prayingI am praying for these men that are putting their lives on the line. I am praying for their families. We don't want anyone else to be left like we are. We are picking up the pieces of our lives. I just would like to ask that you remember that.
Mr. SPENCE. Yes, ma'am. I appreciate that. And for the record, I would like for those questions to be answered for the record.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The information referred to can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. SPENCE. We won't have time to go into it today, it looks like, but give you an opportunity to tell you on behalf of a lot of usI go around making a lot of speeches, and I talk about the fact that our military people, since the very first Revolutionary War, has fought all over this world for this country and to give us freedom that all of us have. And it is not just in wartime, but in peacetime, too. Your husband was lost in a peacetime accident.
I had a friend, lieutenant colonel, Army, who was going over to take over the investigation of the crash sites in Vietnam. He crashed in a helicopter and was killed by other people in peacetime. They still serve this country. It is unfortunate that they give their lives in accidents and in all kind of ways, in peacetime, but it is alsoit is all, as you said earlier, because of the desire to serve this country. They didn't lose their lives in vain, and we are going to do our best to make sure of that.
You have my condolences and my best wishes, and I appreciate you telling us these things today.
Mrs. GRUBER. Thank you very much.
Mr. SPENCE. Yes, Mr. Taylor.
Mr. TAYLOR. Ms. Gruber, if I may?
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. GRUBER. Yes, sir.
Mr. TAYLOR. I would also to like to thank you in particular for coming from the horrible circumstances that you have. Your endorsement of the program, quite frankly, means a whole lot more than the folks who are making money off of this.
I would like to ask you, since you are so concerned about solving the problems, and if you would relay this to the other family members, if there is anything that your husband said or any of his crew ever said that they felt like that needs to be addressed that was not addressed today, I would hope that you or they would come forward with those things that need to be addressed, because I would hope that would be in keeping with your wishes that if there is something wrong that we don't know about, and we are the folks that buy these things, that we need to know about it.
So, again, much like the Chairman, I do want to offer my condolences for your terrible loss and the loss of your friends.
Mrs. GRUBER. Yes, sir. Thank you.
Mr. SPENCE. Anything else?
I want to thank all of you for your contributions, including Mrs. Gruber. I think it has been a very productive hearing, and we have to go forward from here. Thank you very much. I appreciate all of your work. The meeting will be adjourned.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Whereupon, at 4:06 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
May 1, 2001
[The Appendix is pending.]