SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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[H.A.S.C. No. 1075]
NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
FOR FISCAL YEAR 2002H.R. 2586
OVERSIGHT OF PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED PROGRAMS
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMILITARY READINESS SUBCOMMITTEE HEARINGS
TITLE IIIOPERATION AND MAINTENANCE
MAY 21, 2001
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 READINESS SUBCOMMITTEE
CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania, Chairman
ROSCOE G. BARTLETT, Maryland
SAXBY CHAMBLISS, Georgia
WALTER B. JONES, North Carolina
BOB RILEY, Alabama
DUNCAN HUNTER, California
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCHOWARD P. ''BUCK'' McKEON, California
J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma
VAN HILLEARY, Tennessee
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
LANE EVANS, Illinois
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
JAMES H. MALONEY, Connecticut
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
CIRO D. RODRIGUEZ, Texas
ROBERT A. BRADY, Pennsylvania
BARON P. HILL, Indiana
SUSAN A. DAVIS, California
Peter M. Steffes, Professional Staff Member
Joseph F. Boessen, Professional Staff Member
Mary Ellen Fraser, Counsel
Diane W. Bowman, Staff Assistant
C O N T E N T S
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF HEARINGS
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCHEARING:
Monday, May 21, 2001, Fiscal Year 2002 National Defense Authorization ActReadiness Implications Concerning the Need for the V22 Aircraft for Our Military Services
Monday, May 21, 2001
MONDAY, MAY 21, 2001
FISCAL YEAR 2002 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACTREADINESS IMPLICATIONS CONCERNING THE NEED FOR THE V22 AIRCRAFT FOR OUR MILITARY SERVICES
STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Ortiz, Hon. Solomon P., a Representative from Texas, Ranking Member, Military Readiness Subcommittee
Weldon, Hon. Curt, a Representative from Pennsylvania, Chairman, Military Readiness Subcommittee
Bailey, Lt. Gen. Maxwell C., Commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, U.S. Air Force
Brow, Trisha, Widow of John Brow, Deceased Osprey Pilot
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dyer, Vice Adm. Joseph W., Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, U.S. Navy
Fowler, Staff Sergeant Tom, Crew Chief at VMMT204, U.S. Marines Corps
Heckl, Maj. Karsten, CH46 Pilot, U.S. Marine Corps
McCorkle, Lt. Gen. Frederick, Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps, U.S. Marine Corps
McHale, Paul, Former Member of Congress, Professor, Army War College, and Colonel, Marine Reserve Association
[The Prepared Statements submitted can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Bailey, Lt. Gen. Maxwell C.
Dyer, Vice Adm. Joseph W.
McCorkle, Lt. Gen. Frederick
DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC[The Documents submitted can be viewed in the hard copy.]
List of Persons Mr. Weldon Wanted to Thank at the May 21 Readiness Hearing
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Questions and Answers are pending.]
FISCAL YEAR 2002 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACTREADINESS IMPLICATIONS CONCERNING THE NEED FOR THE V22 AIRCRAFT FOR OUR MILITARY SERVICES
House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Military Readiness Subcommittee,
Washington, DC, Monday, May 21, 2001.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 11:02 a.m., at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hon. Curt Weldon (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. CURT WELDON, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM PENNSYLVANIA, CHAIRMAN, MILITARY READINESS SUBCOMMITTEE
Mr. WELDON. This subcommittee will come to order. If I could ask my colleagues to join us. We thank you for your indulgence. We have now been joined by our entire delegation. Senator Specter had to leave, but since he is a member of the other body, he really had no formal standing in our hearing anyway, even though we welcomed him here and look forward to continue to engage with him.
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We thank all of those who allowed this event to be held here. We thank them again, although for my colleagues who just arrived, we already thanked them publicly. I will not do that again. I will submit all their names for the record, so that we have a complete list of those people and leaders who helped make this hearing possible.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. WELDON. This Subcommittee on Military Readiness is meeting in the historic city of Philadelphia and in an historic site in that city, the former Philadelphia Navy Yard. Our meeting here in this great facility is a good example of some of the successes we have had from our downsizing and closing of many of our former military installations, proving that there can be life after BRAC.
The focus of our hearing today is the readiness implications concerning the need for the V22 Osprey aircraft for our military services. Many of you here today are well aware of my previous position on the V22, which has not changed due to any recent events. However, I now have the responsibility to monitor and hopefully improve the day-to-day and long-term readiness of our military services. That is my role as this subcommittee chairman.
Our purpose today is to hear from our military leaders and others who are directly involved in military readiness, including aviation safety, as to why they believe that the V22 aircraft is necessary for the future readiness of our fighting forces. We will also hear today from some V22 crew members, a pilot and a crew chief, on their experiences and impressions of this new aircraft.
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There is no doubt that the V22 is a new, innovative technology that represents a major change in how the Marine Corps and the Special Operations Command will accomplish future military operations. I think we are long past the point of deciding if we need a replacement for the aircraft to accomplish these missions today.
The current aircraft performing these missions are not only older, they are older than the pilots flying them. Pilots are now flying the same aircraft once flown by their parents. I didn't hear Mike Wallace talk about that on national TV. That in and of itself would not be all bad if the current aircraft provided the capabilities that the services required today, which they do not, or if the current aircraft could attain acceptable readiness rates at an affordable cost, which they cannot.
Accepting the fact that the V22 aircraft will be the replacement aircraft for these important missions, what we would like to hear from our witness panel today is will the V22 aircraft significantly improve readiness? What would be the impact on readiness if the V22 is not provided or is significantly delayed, and how long and at what cost in terms of readiness and funding can the services continue with their current aircraft?
Another issue of concern to us today is the safety of the aircraft we provide to the services, and let me say emphatically, no Member of Congress ever wants to see one military person lose his or her life, not one. And for anyone to imply otherwise is absolute arrogance. We work to make sure we have the safest possible systems to protect our soldiers, sailors, Marines and Corps members.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As we hear from our witnesses today, the aircraft that the V22 is proposed to replace, the CH46 and the CH53, began service with the military during the 1960s. Let's get some facts on the table. Concerning the CH46, since the last CH46 was delivered in 1970, its lift capability has been reduced by 50 percent due to a lack of power from aging problems. The pilots of the CH46 must carry 18 troops in combat. They can only train with nine.
Since introduction of the CH46, 166 have been destroyed in accidents, with a loss of 345 Marines, 345 Marines. Since the CH53, 93 have crashed, with a loss of 302 Marines. That is one battalion of Marines dead, one battalion of Marines dead because of accidents in these aging helicopters.
When I was interviewed for three hours by Mike Wallace on national TV, I said, I am as concerned and outraged about the accident of the V22 as you are or anyone else, but what about the lives of the 647 other Marines whose families lost their husbands, sons, fathers and brothers? Are they not as important? Do we not have to worry about replacing aircraft that are being flown by their fathers and grandfathersthat were flown by their grandfathers and fathers before them?
These numbers are unacceptable, and we must do everything in our power to correct the conditions that have caused these losses. Replacing these aged, costly and extremely difficult-to-maintain systems is a major step in that direction. Unfortunately, V22 development has been the cause of loss of life. I lost two constituents. I went to their funerals. I wept with their families. I saw the photograph of the V22 on one coffin as it lay in the funeral home, and sympathized with that family at the loss of their husband and father.
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I don't support the program lightly. We must do all in our power to make sure that all due care and attention at all levels is given to this program so that we will have confidence in the aircraft system that we place our most precious commodity on, our military men and women. Safety is a major ingredient of readiness; but like readiness, safety is a perishable commodity. By the time you realize you have a problem, it is already too late.
In fact, for the record, I will list the five-year mishap data for other systems. The F117 had four mishaps; the F16, three; the F/A18E/F, four; the AV8B, one; the F14, 27; the A7, 155; the H3, 28; the H6, 20; the F8, 288; and the MV22, over ten years four, two when the Department of Defense (DOD) had control of this system.
We don't want any accidents, but unfortunately, with new programs, that has been the history of military systems; unacceptable, but, unfortunately, it has been the history of military systems.
One of the reasons that I chose this location for our hearing today was because this is a city where the Marine Corps got its start. At the Tunn Tavern, not far from here, the Marine Corps was born in Philadelphia. I also wanted to come back to Philadelphia to provide an opportunity for the men and women of one of the companies that help build this aircraft to hear from their customers on how critical the military readiness that their daily attention to quality and first-class manufacturing will be. I am proud of the workers at the plant that is in Bob Brady's district just five miles from here.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As Chairman of the Military Readiness Subcommittee, I am committed to ensuring that our military men and women are given the best tools available to accomplish their assigned missions. I believe the V22 will provide a much-needed improvement to their existing systems that will not only improve their mission capabilities, but will significantly improve the quality of life and safety of those who we ask to go in harm's way. And by the way, at this very moment, we have Marines serving in 20 locations around the world; 37,700 Marines are deployed at this very moment, and many of them are deployed in CH46s and CH53s.
At this point I would like to introduce to everyone the Members of Congress here today. We had Arlen Specter; from the great State of Texas, a man I will introduce in a moment to make his opening comments, the Honorable Solomon Ortiz; the Honorable Walter Jones from North Carolina, who represents constituents who fly in the V22 units and squadrons; Honorable Lane Evans from Illinois, who is the Ranking Democrat, also on the Veterans' Affairs Committee, himself a decorated veteran, has a genuine interest in both Active Duty and those who are retired veterans.
Don Sherwood from Pennsylvania I introduced earlier; Ron Andrews from New Jersey I introduced earlier; Bob Brady from Pennsylvania; and Honorable Sylvestre Reyes from Texas. Sylvestre Reyes, besides being an outstanding member of our committee, is the Chairman of the Hispanic Caucus in the Congress, where he represents all of those Hispanic Members. Sylvestre, it is great to have you with us as well.
And finally, I introduced also Ed Schrock from Virginia.
Before I introduce our first panel members, I would like to now yield to Solomon Ortiz, one of my good friends and our Ranking Member, for any comments he would choose to make.
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STATEMENT OF HON. SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM TEXAS, RANKING MEMBER, MILITARY READINESS SUBCOMMITTEE
Mr. ORTIZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I join you in welcoming our witnesses to this hearing today. I look forward to the opportunity to hear their views and build on the information we have received on the V22 aircraft program.
For all of you attending this hearing, I want to say how pleased I am to be here in this great city with my good friend and Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee the Honorable Curt Weldon. Mr. Chairman, we appreciate your leadership and your dedication. We have served together for so many years, and we worked so well in the past, and I think of no reason why that good relationship would not continue.
Today we are here to understand more about the impact of the V22 on the readiness of the United States Marine Corps and on the readiness of our elite and special operating forces; but it is more than just the readiness of the Marine Corps and the Special Operations Command, it is about the readiness of the entire military.
The V22 is potentially an all-services aircraft, but I am especially concerned about that because of the ability of those forces to perform their diverse and complex missions. Frequently, as the only United States military force in the area, it is critical to this Nation's success in accomplishing its national military strategy. To continue to be successful in this new and evolving environment, they require modern equipment, capable of supporting the new demands. It is difficult to believe that we will continue to have the most capable military forces in the world saddled with equipment that is older than most of the personnel using and maintaining it.
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I am aware of the tragic and difficult history of the V22, but incorporating new technology into the military has never been risk-free or an easy task, and if you listened to some of the voices I hear, we would still be relying on our horses for military transportation.
I also understand the terrible price we pay in military readiness and the quality of life of our personnel by attempting to use and maintain equipment that is well past its intended life. Some of the stories I have heard about operating and maintaining the CH4746 are horrifying. We can and should do better. We cannot afford to do less.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. Ortiz.
Before I turn to our panel, Members who have opening statements will be submitted into the record without objection.
And for our first paneland I would explain the hearing, the way it is going to work. We had originally set up two panels. The first panel was to have consisted of a retired Member of Congress who was currently an Active Dutyor an Active Duty Marine Reserve officer, Colonel Paul McHale. Paul served as a member of the Armed Services Committee and a member of this subcommittee. He was also a veteran of Desert Storm and is someone who left his public office as a state rep to serve his country. He came back to serve in Congress. He had an exemplary career when he was on the committee. In fact, many of us hated to see him leave because of his dedication and commitment to issues of importance to our military.
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Paul has continued that effort. He serves currently as a professor at, I believe, the Army War College. He has been involved with the Naval Academy as an adjunctor as an overseer and also at the Navy Post Graduate School. Paul is someone who takes the role of the military extremely seriously and, as I said, is a colonel in the Marine Reserve Association.
This morning when I arrived, my staff told me that we had a special visitor, and I am delighted to welcome, as Senator Specter did, Mrs. Trisha Brow. She is the widow of Lieutenant John Brow, who was a pilot of the Osprey which crashed in April in Arizona. I was not aware that she was coming, but I am happy that she is here, because these hearings are meant to provide a wide diversity of thought; and there is no one that could perhaps better summarize the personal feeling of the crash of any aircraft than the family members left behind.
A Marine Corps widow has to live with the thought that her husband is out there every day, being asked to do those tasks to protect our country; and she wants to make sure that her husband is protected. So after consultation with my colleagues, we took the unusual step of changing the hearing process, because usually for Congressional hearings, you confirm witnesses days or weeks in advance, but we thought that since she was here, it would be inappropriate not to have her appear and make whatever statement she would like to make.
The second panel will be followed by our leaders of our military, both Marine Corps aviation and naval aviation. We are also extremely happy to have a squadron maintenance chief here from North Carolina and a squadron assistant operations officer at New River, North Carolina, who will give us the real, practical first-hand look from their perspective of the MV22. And if we have timeif not, I am pleased to introduce him, but if we have time, I am also pleased to welcome from American Airlines, their chief pilot. Their chief pilot is Captain Dennis Eckinrod. Dennis was going to fly in the XV15. The XV15 was a prototype of the V22 that has been flying, I believe, for 20 years, Dennis? Twenty years. So for those who say the tiltrotor has not been tested, the XV15 was flying 20 years ago. It was going to land right outside, but because of the weather, Dennis could not bring it in. But Dennis is prepared to talk about the civilian application of tiltrotor technology, and that is why I asked the contractors, even though they are not invited to speak today, to bring in a showcase of the civilian application of this aircraft because of the way that we expect it will revolutionize the way that commuters fly in America.
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So, Dennis, we thank you for coming. Would you please take a rise in case I don't get a chance to have you speak. Thank you for joining us today as the chief pilot for American Airlines.
He is also available after the meeting if you would like to talk to him, as are all of other witnesses and every Member of Congress, so you get a complete picture today for the hearing.
So I welcome our first panel, and I would say to our first panelist, your statements will be entered into the record. We are trying to adhere to a 5-minute rule. So we would ask you to make whatever verbal comments you want. Your written statement is a part of the record in total. It will not be changed. So if you could just, Paul, give us your perspective, because all of us know you, all of us respect you, and we appreciate you being here today.
Former Congressman and Marine Reserve Colonel Paul McHale.
STATEMENT OF PAUL MCHALE, FORMER MEMBER OF CONGRESS, PROFESSOR, ARMY WAR COLLEGE, AND COLONEL, MARINE RESERVE ASSOCIATION
Colonel MCHALE. Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your kind words, and I will move through my testimony as quickly as I can.
Ranking Member Ortiz, members of the readiness subcommittee, former colleagues and continuing friends, I would like to begin my testimony with a brief but, I believe, significant reference to Marine Corps history.
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Over a 5-day period of time, from November 20th to 24th, 1943, the United States Marine Corps fought one of the most ferocious battles in our Nation's history. An earlier analysis of Japanese vulnerability, as conducted by U.S. Army and Marine Corps war planners, had concluded that the seizure of Tarawa Atoll was an essential step to our ultimate victory in the Pacific. The task would prove to be daunting. Nearly 5,000 enemy forces were tactically placed and deeply entrenched on the main island of Betio. Their fighting positions were effectively supported by approximately 200 artillery pieces and machine guns. In short, the entire island was a nearly impregnable strong point, and most significantly, the Japanese knew the Marines were coming.
Beginning on November 20th, 1943, the 2nd Marine Division attacked Tarawa with almost unbelievable courage, straight into the Japanese guns. Prior naval bombardment had done little to soften the Japanese resistance. The Marines had almost no room to maneuver as they came ashore. After the first three waves had landed, the changing tide proved insufficient to lift the remaining amphibious landing craft over the offshore reef. As a result, the assaulting Marines from the 2nd and 8th Regiments were forced to jump from transports into the water, loaded with all their combat equipment, while yet 1,000 yards from the beach. Many drowned. Those who survived the unplanned dismount then waded through a half mile of raking machine gun fire and constant Japanese artillery bombardment as they tenaciously made their way to shore.
Young Marines, many still in their teens, moved slowly forward through a hail of shrapnel. The water turned red with their blood. One noted historian has written that, ''the scene around the island sickened the most hardened veterans.'' And when it was over, the Marines held the island, but the cost was extraordinarily high. There were 3,318 casualties of whom 1,085 died.
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Tarawa confirmed the raw courage of those Marines, but also proved that it is no defense against the enormous and predictable casualties of a frontal assault. It is a brutal fact that if the enemy knows when and where you are coming at them, you will pay a high price in blood. No lance corporal should ever be asked to pay that price when advanced technology, such as the speed and vertical landing capability of the MV22, provides an alternative.
No one can predict with absolute certainty what will be the battlefield realities of the 21st century, but a few things are clear. Our potential adversaries are getting stronger. Basic infantry weapons are becoming more powerful. During the next several decades, precision-guided weaponry will almost certainly proliferate to every potential adversary of the United States. For these reasons, a frontal amphibious assault against a defended beach or enemy strong point will be nearly impossible against even a second-rate military power; and the casualties associated with such an attack could easily dwarf our experience at Tarawa.
Fortunately, emerging technology will soon allow our Marines to rapidly bypass known positions of enemy strength in order to more rapidly and effectively attack from over the horizon weak spots on the flank or in the enemy rear. Advanced intel assets will enable a better U.S. picture of the battlefield. Improved communication will allow our forces to have a common operating picture of the conflict, often in realtime. But the key to success will be the United States' ability to introduce forces into a combat theatre at multiple entry points so that the enemy will be unable to predict with certainty where the Marines will land. With the speed and operational capabilities of the MV22, Tarawa need not be repeated.
The Marine Corps has built its 21st century warfighting concepts on a clearly defined triad of weapons systems: the Triple AV, the LCAC and the MV22 Osprey. These three combat transports will allow Marine infantry and equipment to move from ship to shore at astonishing speed. That speed will in turn allow the supporting naval task force to remain much further offshore, over the horizon, and beyond the effective range of many enemy weapons systems. In short, utilizing the Triple AV, the LCAC and the MV22 Osprey, the Navy and Marine Corps of the 21st century will be able to launch an attack from far greater speed from assembly areas much further away, capable of landing along a wider range of landing zones (LZs) and shore points, thereby denying the enemy a reliable prediction of precisely where and when the Marines will come ashore. The possibility of multiple U.S. entry points into the combat zone will inevitably spread and weaken the enemy's defenses and reduce our casualties in establishing a beachhead.
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Unlike Tarawa, with the operational flexibility of the MV22 Osprey, we will be able to bypass the enemy's known strength, landing in lightly defended LZs, where and when our forces are least expected. I am not aware of any operational alternatives to the MV22 which offer anything close to comparable capabilities.
I was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant nearly three decades ago. My first flight on a CH46 was in 1972. At that time, the CH46 was already eight years old. Today the basic CH46 aircraft design is approaching 40 years of age. I have flown aboard the CH46 more times and places than I could begin to remember. Let me assure you from personal experience, she is a great helicopter, but long, long past retirement age. By contrast, the MV22 Osprey, with its tiltrotor technology, a combat load of 24 troops, a cruise speed of 240 knots, a global self-deployment capability with a range of 2,100 nautical miles with just one refueling is an extraordinary advance in ship-to-shore movement. Simply stated, as a potential replacement for the aging fleet of CH46s and CH53 Deltas, the MV22 Osprey demonstrates a half century of design and technology improvement.
There are those who argue that the two existing helicopters, which have been suggested as a replacement, the Blackhawk and the CH53 Echo, represent more reliable, less expensive alternatives to the MV22 Osprey. Having flown in both, I disagree with that assessment. They are fine helicopters, but neither has the speed, combat survivability or tactical flexibility of the Osprey. Moreoverand I recall this, gentlemen, with absolute clarity, I was a member of this subcommittee at the time the following event occurred; and I remember the pain and the anguish of the loss of American lives at the time of this firefight. As the October 1993 firefight in Mogadishu so clearly demonstrated, the Blackhawk is undeniably vulnerable to even crude, shoulder-fired rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). Similarly, the CH53 Echo was designed for heavy-lift cargo missions, not assault penetration, into or around substantial enemy defenses.
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It is an unquestioned fact that no helicopter now in existence can match the design requirements of the MV22. Therefore, it is an equally hard truth that if the Osprey is rejected, there are no ready options, no rotary wing alternatives with comparable capabilities waiting for an easy move to center stage.
And finally, Mr. Chairman, let me conclude with a very personal statement. My earlier testimony was not meant to imply that all doubts surrounding the MV22 have been resolved. They have not. While the basic tiltrotor design has met and overcome probing scrutiny, there are significant outstanding issues related to maintenance, reliability and quality control. Twenty-three Marines died last year in two separate crashes. To those Marines, their families, and to those who will follow, this subcommittee owes a duty of diligence. When I served among you, that enormous responsibility kept me awake at night.
Ask the tough questions. Examine the relevant maintenance records. Hold contractors accountable. Do not allow full production and accelerated procurement until you receive satisfactory answers from all who are or have been involved in the design, production, maintenance and testing of this extraordinary aircraft. I believe that at the end of the day, following a tough and ongoing review, the MV22 Osprey will remain the safest, fastest, most mission-capable means by which to transport Marines into combat, and it won't require a frontal assault.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. McHale, Congressman McHale, Colonel McHale, for your outstanding testimony and
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Colonel MCHALE. I have been called much worse than all of those.
Mr. WELDON.very personal comments, and we look forward to questions, but before that I would like to have our second panelist, who is an unexpected, but very pleasant addition to our hearing today, who arrived in Philadelphia and came up and said she had a statement to make; and we welcome that, the widow of one of the brave Americans who gave his life on behalf of all of us at the crash of the V22 in April in Arizona. It is a pleasure to welcome her here, because we have all felt the tragedy that has occurred with accidents in this program.
Congressman Jones, who sits next to me, the crew of the most recent accident were all from his district. He attended their funerals, their services, met with their families, and is still anguishing over the personal loss that each of those families suffered. As I mentioned, I lost two constituents in the early developmental phase, including one of our brave union members, who went down in an earlier crash of a pre-DOD aircraft.
All of us anguish over these losses. We can never say enough words to thank those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The least we can do is to allow their family members to tell their story, and so that is why it was unanimous, Trisha, that we invite you, when we found out you were here today, to make whatever comments you would like to make before the subcommittee. Welcome.
Trisha BrownBrow, I'm sorry, is currently residing near Patch River, I understand now, and she has two children, and please extend to them the sympathy of the Congress, which we have done repeatedly in this terrible tragedy that occurred in Arizona and the one in North Carolina; and let them know that we will not stop until every Marine is properly protected, which, as I know, is the same thought that you share. So the floor is yours. Thank you.
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STATEMENT OF TRISHA BROW, WIDOW OF JOHN BROW, DECEASED OSPREY PILOT
Mrs. BROW. Thank you. Thank you, Chairman and distinguished Members of Congress. My name is Trisha Brow, former Pennsylvanian.
Mr. WELDON. All right.
Mrs. BROW. I am the widow of Lieutenant Colonel John Brow. My husband John was the pilot of the V22 Osprey that crashed a year ago, April 8th, in Marana, Arizona. He was one of 19 Marines that lost their lives that night.
You will hear from top echelons of the Marine Corps and the Air Force Special Force Ops. You will hear from a Marine pilot and a crew chief. What you willalso should hear and I thank you for the opportunity to hear is from me representing the families of the 23 that lost their lives last year.
Now, this is why I am here and why I am interested in these proceedings, as well as the other inquiries under way concerning the Osprey. It is because I, along with Mrs. Gruber, Mrs. Harding, Mrs. Nelson, Mrs. Sweaney, Mrs. Murphy, Mrs. Bythe, and Mrs. Reynolds, as well the other wives, mothers, fathers and children of those 23 Marines, have paid themore than a price for the Osprey aircraft that any other taxpayer will ever be asked to pay.
You distinguished gentlemen represent us. You are our voice. You are charged with the important responsibilities to assure our national defense is provided for and that our tax dollars are well spent. You are charged with the responsibility to guarantee our most precious assets, the men and women who make the sacrifice to serve their country and are not needlessly expended on immature new aircraft that has not been adequately tested before being turned over to the Marine Corps.
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I am not here to criticize the Marine Corps. The officers, men and women of the Corps have been very good to me. In fact, since the accident, General McCorkle has been especially solicitous to my family and me. I personally thank him for that. I understand from some of the other families that that is true. I am a Marine wife. My husband was a Marine through and through.
I am not here to embarrass or criticize the Corps. I am here to speak truth. We need truth at this time. It is a horrible disservice to the memory of the 23 Marines to pretend that there is not really a problem or just to make nice and say no one was responsible, that it just happened; and it is the cost of doing business.
To prematurely justify this aircraft as a commercial necessity is disgraceful to the families. There is a problem, and people made decisions that resulted in two horribly tragic crashes and the death of the father of my children, as well as the death of 22 Marines. We should not easily dismiss this fact. I know I will not, and you shouldn't either.
In the Blue Ribbon Panel's report, it makes some comparison between the Osprey's development and the development of other military aircraft in recent years. Those are just that, numbers. They are statistics, not real people. John was a real person. He had hopes and dreams, just like you or your sons and daughters. He expected to be able to see his sons grow up and know his grandchildren, just like you want to do. He wanted to teach his son to hit a baseball. He had decided to serve his country just like you; but unlike you and the millions of other Americans, he had accepted that he might have to risk his life to protect your freedom and the freedom of all Americans. What he did not expect, that this new aircraft that has cost the taxpayers billions of dollars wasn't as safe as money should have been able to make it; but instead of his life being risked in the unpredictability of a hostile enemy, his life was lost by a failure of well-paid engineers and contractors over a period of years to predict how an aircraft would perform in peacetime flying.
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There is something else about those numbers and statistics that bother me. I hope they were not intended to mislead, but I think they may well be misleading. I hope you will look into this. The numbers of the accident rate are oneexcuse me. The numbers speak of an accident rate of 100,000 flying hours. To compare the different aircraft during developmental flights, for the Osprey it shows three accidents. It seems to me that an arbitrary definition in the December 11th, 2000, crash was omitted. It should not have been. In December of last year, the Osprey still had 13 areas that had been deferred during developmental and operational testing and still had not been cleared for full-rate production. Colonel Sweaney and Major Murphy's crash was as much during the developmental phase as my husband's.
Why were the numbers selected that way? To make the Osprey look better than it is? There is something more about those numbers that is misleading. Those numbers quoted in the panel's report only address the number of accidents. They do not address the number of fatalities. What were the numbernumbers be for deaths per 100,000 flying hours? Consider the fighting aircraftfighter aircraft that were compared to the Osprey had ejection seats. At most, they had two seats per aircraft. I think it would be safe to assume that the fatality rate for those aircraft would have been low, but with 30 deaths and four accidents in the aircraftin the Osprey, it is clear to see that the fatality rate for the Osprey is extremely high.
You, Mr. Chairman, and the other members of this committee, as well as the Members of Congress, should not accept anything but unvarnished truth when it comes to such important decisions. I have read the Blue Ribbon Panel. I am grateful for their service and most appreciative of the fact that the panel accurately stated the aircraft was not tested and the pilots were not adequately warned concerning the phenomena of asymmetrical wing vortices. This is a dangerous condition, particularly to the Osprey, that killed John and the 18 Marines that night. This is a condition that should have been tested for and properly identified with significant safety margins built in to avoid the catastrophe. I am grateful the panel has identified the true cause of my husband's death.
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Why the panel did notwhat troubles me is the panel didn't stop where it did and why the Marine Corps has not taken the steps to clear my husband's name. Why the panelwhy didn't the panel identify where and why the decisions were made that resulted in the April and December crash? Why didn't it ask the hard questions of Bell and Boeing and did not fully test the flight envelope to define the vortex wing shape problem?
Why didn't the panel ask the questions of how such a dangerous phenomenon could go undetected for some many years with billions of dollars in testing, engineering, wind tunnel testing, and computer simulation and actual flying? Surely someone should have anticipated the combat aircraft would be called upon to make night formation flight in a hostile environment for the purpose of rapidly rescuing hostages on the ground. That precise mission profile has been cited many times as the best example as need for the Osprey. In fact, the Senate Armed Services Committee just three weeks ago mentioned this again.
It is not that weit is said that we need the Osprey because it could perform the mission of rescuing our embassy hostages from Iran where other aircraft failed. The mission that resulted in aircraft in Marana, Arizona was that mission, and it also failed. An enemy will not be impressed by rhetorical and glossy-selling performance figures. For all its advanced technology, the aircraft will have to perform in the real world, and it didn't at Marana.
Another question I have is why haven't we heard from the contractors? As far as I can tell, no one has asked them questions. There is no public record of the Blue Ribbon Panel asking them questions. They haven't been called before your committee, Mr. Chairman, or the Senate Armed Services Committee. It is a $40 billion program. They have financial incentive to make the aircraft right. This should be done by answering the hard questions.
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Mr. Chairman, this aircraft is being built within your district. I am not sure it is just a
Mr. WELDON. That is not correct.
Mrs. BROW. Okay. I am sorry. With due respect to Major Heckl and Staff Sergeant Fowler, you have not been where I have, and I hope you and your families never are. I appreciate the support of the V22your support for the V22 program; but as I say, the Corps is not programs and equipment. It is the men and women that share the uniform with you, and it is the families that stand behind them even when they are no longer there to speak for themselves.
There is nothing that I can do to bring my husband back, but there is everything that can be done to keep what happened to me and my family to happenkeep from happening to you or any other Marine. As I said before, I am not here to kill the program, just to make sure that it is done right.
My attorney Brian Alexander has a brief statement on behalf of the families.
Mr. WELDON. I agreed to allow you to speak. I don't think we want to necessarily allowthe attorney didn't ask me, first of all, which I resent, the fact he didn't raise that with me prior to the hearing. You simply asked thatif Mrs. Brow could speak, and I said yes. I think that was very unprofessional that you would ask for her to speak and not ask me if you wanted to speak. That isI mean, I don't know where you are coming from, but perhaps
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Mr. ALEXANDER. No.
Mr. WELDON. I am chairing the hearing. Mrs. Brow, your comments were very personal and very much to the point. What I will tell you as the chairman of this subcommittee is we will allow you to submit and want you to submit a list of questions that you have outlined and perhaps have not been answered. We will get those answers for the record, and we will follow through to make sure that your concerns, in fact, are being addressed fully.
Your husband is a hero. He served this country as a hero, and no one can ever take that away from him. And all of usall of us could never feel the loss that you felt in losing your husband and the father of your children; and I will tell you that irregardless of whether this program is built in Pennsylvania or built in Texas or California, we will not allow Marines to fly in aircraft that are patently unsafe.
We are concerned about the loss of life. As I mentioned, we have lost 600 and some Marines in the CH53 and 46. That is an entire brigade of Marines. We have got to find a replacement, but we can't do that by rushing a program
Mrs. BROW. Absolutely.
Mr. WELDON.that has problems, and I assure you that will not take place.
But I just want to tell you that I am glad you came. I am glad you are here. And you have the invitation to interact with me at any point in time as the chairman of this subcommittee on any concerns that you feel need to be addressed. So if you get me those list of questions, I will be happy to entertain them, and I thank you for coming.
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Mr. McHale, I want to thank you as well.
Do any of my colleagues have questions for either panelist?
Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to say that my only comment was to say thank you very much on Mrs. Brow's behalf for giving her the opportunity to speak, and that we are here on behalf of all the families
Mr. WELDON. Thank you.
Mr. ALEXANDER.in both North Carolina and
Mr. WELDON. Are all the families under one attorney? Is that correct to say?
Mr. ALEXANDER. We have a team of several attorneys, but we are all
Mr. WELDON. But you represent all the families?
Mr. ALEXANDER. I represent near 20 of the 23, but with four other attorneys across the country that I am working with, we represent all the
Mr. WELDON. Well, thank you. My point was, you didn't ask me. I would have let you, but you didn't ask me.
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Mr. ALEXANDER. I don't have a statement. I just wanted to thank the chair of the committee.
Mr. WELDON. I thank you for coming, because obviously your statement stands on its own, and your feelings, we can never replace what you lost. Will you let your children know that America will stand by you and yourand I was glad to hear your comments about General McCorkle. I share your concern. He is going to testify next, and as you know, I don't think anyone rescued more Marines in Vietnam than the gentleman testifying next. So when others were sitting back in their lounge chairs in America, it was General McCorkle who was flying in and out of very hostile environments, rescuing Marines, and saw death come to our Marines on a regular and too frequent basis. And I know he shares the concern that you have, and I was glad to hear you make the comment that you did about the general.
Mrs. BROW. General McCorkle has been a friend of our family since 1988, and we appreciate that.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you very much. We appreciate you both being here.
With that, we will go, if there are no other questions, to our next panel and welcome the officers of the Marine Corps to come forward.
General Fred McCorkle, the Deputy Commandant for Aviation in U.S. Marine Corps; Admiral Joe Dyer, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, Department of the Navy; General Maxwell Bailey, Commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, Department of the Air Force; Major Karsten Heckl, Squadron Assistant Operations Officer, V22 Command at New River, North Carolina, U.S. Marine Corps; Staff Sergeant Tom Fowler, the Squadron Maintenance Chief, V22 Command at New River, North Carolina, U.S. Marine Corps.
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We welcome each of you to the stand, and your statements will be introduced as a part of the record, and, General, I meant when I said, and I know you are a very modest person, so you would never talk about this, but I have talked to Marines who were there, and I know what you did to rescue America's sons when they were captured, when they were down; and I know the personal anguish that you have testified and talked about when Members of Congress have basically elicited these feelings from you about your frustration in not having better equipment to do the job. And so we deeply appreciate that, and I appreciate you being here and especially your concern for the families of those whose lives were lost in the production of this new aircraft.
So, General, the statements are entered into the record. The floor is yours. General McCorkle.
STATEMENT OF LT. GEN. FREDERICK MCCORKLE, DEPUTY COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS, U.S. MARINE CORPS
General MCCORKLE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and all of the distinguished members of the subcommittee. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to come up today, and although I was supposed to fly a 46 up today with Congressman Jones, I think he prayed for rain, so we had to come up on a C9.
I am here today to discuss the operational aspects of the MV22. My good friend Vice Admiral Joe Dyer and others here, they all talk about the cost and the logistics. As you said, sir, you have been provided with a copy of my statement for the record.
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And as you have already said, I am a 46 pilot. I have been flying that airplane since 1969. So for about 32 yearsand, in fact, I would tell this committee that less than a month ago I flew nine hours atin the desert in Yuma, Arizona. Three of those hours were on night vision goggles in zero illum, which I truly would have liked to have had during the Vietnam era.
Something I would bet that none of the members of the committee know is that divisionally the aircraft taken off in 40aircraft declared an emergency, number one hydraulic failure, and barely made it back into Yuma. No newspapers printed that. Nobody told Congress about it because it was a Legacy airplane. I have got a lot of hours in a 46 and certainly love that airplane, but it was a great airplane, but its time has passed.
I have also, besides Trish Brow, who I consider to be a personal friend, and along with Connie Gruber and Trish Murphy and Carol Sweaney are members of allspouses of all the pilots that we have lost here over the last year, they are good friends of mine, but I have also lost 25 Marines, one sailor in six C46 crashes over the last four years. We are losing one of our Legacy airplanes about every six months and losing our young service people with them.
But I am here to talk about the operational aspects of this aircraft for the committee, and I am not really sure if anybody has reached out and really grasped what the MV22 is going to bring. And I am going to look at it from a different perspective, if I can, just for a minute.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If I came before this committee and told you that we have the greatest country in the world, greatest fixed-wing airplanes, greatest fighters and greatest attackers, and I told you I had just flown an airplane, which is Mach 2, which is one of our Legacy airplanes, but I had a new aircraft that I could bring in that would fly Mach 4, four times the speed of sound, I think most of you would be very impressed. If I said this Legacy airplane that I flew carried 12,000 pounds of ordnance into combat, but I came before this committee and told you I had an airplane that would carry 45,000 pounds of ordnance into combat, I think that you would be very impressed. And last, I have an airplane that flies 800 nautical miles into combat, but this new airplane would fly 3,200 nautical miles into combat. That is what the MV22 brings to this great Nation when you compare it with my Legacy 46: twice as fast, travels four times as far, carries three times as much. All of those are minimum.
We recognize that the advances in technology also bring risk, and despite our best efforts, the MV22 has been no different than any other airplane. The crashes of the two Ospreys and the loss of the 23 lives absolutely breaks my heart; and I think I knew probably more of those individuals than anybody in the room outside the two crew members of the MV22 members in here, including most of the families that lost loved ones in those MV22s.
You have all heard a lot about the safety and reliability and maintainability of the V22. Let me assure you that as a Marine I share those concerns, and no one shares those concerns more than me and the Commandant of the Marine Corps General Jones, although I can assure you my colleagues up here with me also share those concerns.
I assure you also that the plans for this aircraft returning to flying status will never be driven by eventsor by schedules. It will be driven by the events. When we have completed one section to get ready to go forward, then we will look at the next section in there; and if someone asks me, well, how long is it going to be, is it going to be four months or five months before you fly again, I say that this airplane is going to be event-driven. When we are happy with what Vice Admiral Dyer is doing in Pax River, then we will go back to 204, and then we will prepare to send airplanes out on a cruise. As always we will be guided by the unyielding commitment to do what is right to our Marines and to their families.
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And, Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement, and I will stand by for any questions that you and the committee have.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, General McCorkle.
[The prepared statement of General McCorkle can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. WELDON. Admiral Dyer.
STATEMENT OF VICE ADM. JOSEPH W. DYER, COMMANDER, NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, U.S. NAVY
Admiral DYER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the committee. It is a pleasure to appear before you today to discuss the V22. I would like to submit my remarks for the record, sir; and I will briefly summarize.
Mr. WELDON. Without objection.
Admiral DYER. I am the Commander of the Naval Air Systems Command. That organization is tasked with the responsibility for attending to the near-term readiness of our Naval aviation forces, as well as the recapitalization and the technology that is a bridge for tomorrow. Those tasks are becoming more difficult, Mr. Chairman, as we have to deal with both the high-technical operations and with our aging fleet. Both are increasing our maintenance costs and our operation and support budgets. As a matter of fact, our flying hour program in Naval aviation is increasing at approximately 13 percent per year, that as we carry with us a large fleet of Legacy aircraft.
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Congressman Jones, another North Carolinian, let me use an expression from back home. It is just making us poor to carry it.
Mr. Chairman, we believe that the cost of operating Naval aviation is going to continue to increase eight percent per average year of aircraft life. We are 18 years of age now, and we continue to 21 years of age before we even level off this trend of aging force.
That is one of the many reasons that this new aircraft is as important to us as it is. As you have heard earlier, the H46 and 53s are children of the early 1960s. We are seeing, as with the rest of the fleet, their maintenance cost increases, their reliability down, and their availability down as well. They are deficient to today's requirements for range, for payload and for speed; and they are very limited in terms of their ability to self-deploy.
To give you just one example, the CH46 Echo, of which we have 229, the direct maintenance flight hours, the direct maintenance hours per flight hour have increased 39 percent since 1995. Today it takes us 27.2 maintenance hours to get a single hour of operating time out of the H46.
The V22 also has to be, I believe, viewed in a warfighting context. It does deliver the range, the speed and the payload, as well as the vertical lift capability of a helicopter.
Significant intellectual capital has been invested in determining if this is the right weapons' system for this mission. Seven cost and operational effective analyses have been completed. We believe that is quality work well done.
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The V22 does have a higher unit cost, but it brings with it the ability to accomplish the mission with fewer aircraft and to spend less time with hostile exposure to combat troops. Like the DOD Blue Ribbon Panel, I feel strongly that this is a program that should continue.
During operational tests, the aircraft met all its critical requirements, though it was not as good as we expect and as we must have it in terms of reliability, availability and maintainability. The program team along with Bell/Boeing has a way ahead with regard to those shortcomings.
We do have issues of safety as well. Tragically, Marine lives were lost. After the last mishap, I directed an independent review of the V22 development program. Prior to returning toany operational aircraft to flight, a complete review of all developmental testing will be conducted. The review will assess the adequacy of testing, identify any additional tests that are required. The reviews are currently under way; and in addition, the V22 acquisition working group is developing a restructured program for both the MV and the CV22 programs that complies with the Blue Ribbon Panel recommendations, along with acquisition policies and the service need. The goal is to recommend the plan that will deliver the military services a safe, reliable and operationally effective V22. We must and shall understand the hardware, the software and the production quality issues.
Mr. Chairman, I think we have two important jobs to do, a job of technical confidence and the job of reestablishing the confidence of the taxpayers and the Congress that this aircraft is ready to go. We have developed a five-phase plan that starts out with the airplane being flown under very, very controlled conditions by trained test pilots, with exit criteria that must be accomplished before we go to the next phase. And the next phase we will go to is training operation, again in a controlled environment, and finally only at the end of five phases, with specific accomplishments will we return to fleet operations.
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Mr. Chairman, I shall be the approving authority for the entrance and return to flight testing and the return to fleet training. I commit to you, sir, that I will exercise strong conscience in doing so. I believe we are headed in the right direction, sir, and thank you for your time this morning.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Admiral Dyer.
[The prepared statement of Admiral Dyer can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. WELDON. General Bailey.
STATEMENT OF LT. GEN. MAXWELL C. BAILEY, COMMANDER, AIR FORCE SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND, U.S. AIR FORCE
General BAILEY. Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the subcommittee, I am really pleased to be here today to discuss the special operation variant of the V22, the CV22. Special Operation Forces (SOF) have long recognized the need for high-speed, long-range vertical lift aircraft to conduct precise, low-visibility penetration missions transporting men and materials deep into hostile or denied territory during a signal period of darkness. New aircraft must be self-deployable, sustainable and capable of operating on any airfield or sea-based platform.
SOF's existing helicopter fleet is among the most technologically advanced in the world, but it does lack the speed and unrefueled range necessary to conduct our sensitive missions during, again, this single period of darkness or without the requirement of refueling in hostile or denied areas.
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The CV22 alone combines combat capabilities needed on the modern battlefield with speed and range of fixed-wing aircraft and vertical performance of a helicopter. This combination will enable it to fill a niche no other aircraft can do. And so it is really not, if you look at it, an MH53 replacement. It really is something that will give us a capability that we know we need that we just haven't gotten today. And I am not taking anything away from our current fleet of helicopters; 53 has been a great platform and continues to get super reliability as we do our worldwide mission today; but, again, it is just not the right aircraft as we look at the future to do our full range of capability and at an aging platform that requires more and more maintenance each year.
Ever since the debacle at Desert One, which is a milestone in the rebirth and modernization of your very capable Special Operations Forces today, we have required the capabilities that the CV22 provides; and I look forward to the day when the CV22s are fielded and ready, but at a pace which ensures the safety, reliability and maintainability for the folks that are going to fly them and for the missions that we are going to do.
I believe, though, that the CV22 is the capability that we need in our Special Operation Forces to stay on the leading edge and ahead of the change in the world.
Thank you, sir, and I look forward to your questions.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, sir.
[The prepared statement of General Bailey can be found in the Appendix.]
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Mr. WELDON. Major Heckl, would you like to make a statement to us?
Major HECKL. No, sir. I would rather not.
Mr. WELDON. You would rather not?
Major HECKL. Sir, you notice I am the only one sitting up here, and Staff Sergeant Fowler, without a notebook. So I think we are kind of here, if you are ready to fire questions, we are ready to give you answers from the worker bee.
Mr. WELDON. I think you and the sergeant have the firsthand experience that is so important for us to get a full assessment. Why don't you just give usI mean, you are down there. You have responsibility now. You are where the rubber meets the road. Tell us what you think about the aircraft and whether or not we are rushing the program or whether or not you are being asked to do things.
STATEMENT OF MAJ. KARSTEN HECKL, CH46 PILOT, U.S. MARINE CORPS
Major HECKL. I will be glad to do this, and this is obviously off the cuff. I don't have anything prepared up here.
First, I was justso everybody understands, I was very close personal friends with all four pilots. I was the casualty assistant stalls officer when Major Gruber perished on April 8th, and so our hearts are still very much with him, and thoughts, often. I had a year of my life on a ship with Major Brooks Gruber, who died in the April 8th accident, so, I mean, we have been around together.
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I also think it is kind of funny hearing all this talkI am a CH46 pilot. It is what I have done in my time in the Marine Corps, and General McCorkle gave me my aircraft commander check in that aircraft about 11 years ago, and the aircraft was just about my age, as I recall, the one that we flew. So all those concerns are absolutely valid.
Second, on behalf of the squadron, I know we really much appreciate the opportunity, sir, to come up here. We get really tired of taking it on the chin in places like the Washington Post. Obviously a little Marine unit down in Jacksonville, North Carolina, doesn't have that much say, but it is good to get an opportunity to tell everybody how we really feel.
I am a qualified aircraft commander in a V22. I was flying pretty hot and heavy all summer, through the fall. I flew extensively with Major Mike Murphy. I flew with a lot of the guys.
Bottom line, it is a phenomenal aircraft. I am an operational Marine. That is all I have ever done. That is all I want to be known as. I don't particularly care to do these kind of things. I do like the opportunity to come up here and express how the squadron feels on behalf of VMMT204; but from an operating perspective, wanting to be out on ship, ready to be there to execute when called on, you cannot have the discussion about whether this aircraft can be rivaled by any other. There is just not a discussion.
I like to think that I have some MOS, military occupational specialty, credibility where I come from, and I think I can say that statement with 100 percent assuredness that that is true. Reliability and maintainability, yep, you betcha, maybe that is something we need to worry about; but I am amazed that we expect this aircraft to come onto the flight line and be all things to all people right off the get-go. I mean, we were evolving the CH46 Echowe are evolving the CH46 Echo as we speak. Aircraft are evolutionary, I think.
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But I will tell you, sir, flying the airplane in all regimes, I have flown it on goggles, high light, low light. I have done cowls until my nose bled. About the only thing I haven't done is shipboard operations. It is a phenomenal machine, and when I am approached by reporters, Staff Sergeant Fowler and I both have the same sentiment. You know, a picture is worth 1,000 words. If I could just strap your butt in this machine and take you for a ride, you would come back and write a 50-page article. It is that good.
I do think, sir, that all the attention it is getting now is probably good for us. We are getting the attention we want, but we are genuinely concerned that now in the name of perception management, because of things like the Post, that we are going to allow things to drag, and we are going to lose a sense of urgency. Marines are doers. We don't like sitting around waiting, and we don't like to mark time. We want to move forward, sir, and in the memory of the Marines who have gone before us, we would like to do the same.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you. That was an outstanding statement.
I flew in the first aircraft with the Commandant when it was delivered to the Pentagon. We went up and flew out to the Beltway and around and stopped and went backwards, you went sideways, you thrusted forward and did all kind of maneuvers that I felt like my heart was in my throat, but I have never felt a more exhilarating experience. I don't know if you were the pilot or not in that aircraftwere you flying that day?
Major HECKL. No, sir. I wasn't evenI am still fairly junior. I have only got about 85 hours in the aircraft; but, yes, sir, you are absolutely right.
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And the one thing I probably missed, that the reason we want this machine, it is not because guys wearing gold wings up here want them. You know, I am a Marine first and foremost. A pilot falls out somewhere down the chain. We are buying it for the Marine lance corporal to execute that mission. I need to be able to take him where he needs to go to do his mission and when told to do it, and there is no other machine that can do this.
In the last decadelike I said before in previous discussions, the last decade is replete with examples where I have been out on those Marine expeditions and sitting on the boat, waiting for the call, getting ready to go out and do what the taxpayers pay us to do. And this airplane, there are examples again where this aircraft would have changed the scenario significantly is an understatement. And you look at what is happening in Liberia since 1990, again Operation Eastern Exit in Mogadishu, this aircraft would have completely changed the complexion of those missions. So the bottom line is it is for those Marines we want this aircraft.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you.
Sergeant, we have to ask you to give us your personal comments. You are here. Tell us what you do and what you think. You don't have a written statement. We don't want a written statement. Tell us from your heart what you think.
STATEMENT OF STAFF SERGEANT TOM FOWLER, CREW CHIEF AT VMMT204, U.S. MARINES CORPS
Sergeant FOWLER. Yes, sir. I am Staff Sergeant Fowler. I am crew chief at VMMT204, just like the major; prior 46 crew chief, got about 1,500 hours on the 46, transitioned into the V22, worked in maintenance control, the Flight Line Division, and currently running a phase maintenance evolution on one of the aircraft.
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And I would echo the major's sentiments completely concerning the aircraft. We are here to represent the maintainers down at the 204, here to answer any questions you might have.
One of our major concerns is that a lot of the media, the press, has lumped everything on the V22. As a maintainer, I would, you know, focus people's attention also to the support equipment systems that came along with the V22, which make it extremely difficult if those systems don't cooperate with each other to maintainto give an accurate maintainability of the V22. Our concerns, obviously, just like any of the pilots, the hydraulic lines is an issue that we need to look at, the software issue. If those two issues were taken care of today, I would have no problems stepping back in this aircraft.
I believe I told the Senate committee that when I first stepped on the V22, I wasn't sure. We volunteered to fly; they are a completely voluntary thing for us, and I wasn't sure I was going to feel it out. I had a chip on my shoulder about it, old 46that I love the 46 to death. You know, I would agree with the general that it is a great airplane, but it is past its time.
The instant that plane took off, the V22, the flight I went on, theand I am not, you know, even like the major, who deals in operations and tactical environments. I am a maintainer. I am a crew chief. I do my job. But even to me, I could sense the future possibilities of this airframe to be phenomenal; the capabilities, same thing. Like the major said, you really get a sense of what this aircraft could do for the ground Marines, the O311 that needs to get extracted out of a zone ASAP, as soon as possible, that needs to be put into a zone as rapidly as possible with the least amount of risk, and I am definitely just like the major that that is what this aircraft is for is the ground Marine.
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And like I said, as far as my colleagues down at 204, we do have some concerns as far as accessibility. I also feel like the major, that although we need to take our time, do things right, I also don't think we need to probe too far and go overboard and come up with new unknowns. The general sentiment at 204 is let's look at the hydraulic chafing issue, let's look at the software, let us make the Master board and nacelles a little more accessible. Once those things get settled on, like you stated yourself, sir, that tiltrotor technology for us is not the main focus. It is proven. The tiltrotor technology is proven. I have got about 25 hours in airframe, you know, not quite as many as the major, but that 25 hours, it has completely won me over, and also in the maintainability.
It does take time to get used to. It is when you go from working on a CH46 to a V22, with new-type systems where you used to open up a manual, now you have got a computer, it takes some getting used to. We have already made great strides in those areas.
I didn't get a chance to speak about it last time, but we pulled a tilt access gearbox, which is one of the transmissions inside the nacelle. First time we did it, took three days. We just did one about two weeks ago, took four hours.
We are making progress in leaps and bounds on this aircraft, and right now we are in the process of verifying all the maintenance steps for that, and, you know, our sentiment at 204 is step back, let us do our thing, and we will give the American public, the 0311 Marines across the river a tremendous asset. Thank you.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Sergeant, for that very personal and heartfelt statement. We appreciate you being here.
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I just have one question because I want to let my colleagues ask questions.
General, I need to address the issue that embarrassed the Marines and all of us when you found that someone had actually told subordinate Marines to not tell the truth. Could you explain what happened, what you did and the results of the investigation that were done on that issue?
General MCCORKLE. I believe unless it has happened in the last couple of days that that is still under investigation by the DOD IG. But what I will say is that at the time that this occurred and it was brought up, all the aircraft were grounded anyway, so that no airplanes were flying, and for the life of me I could not understand why someone would bewould talk about increasing the readiness, you know, when none of the airplanes were flying.
Mr. WELDON. What was the action taken against him when he was found out that he had
General MCCORKLE. The individual, the squadron commander, was relieved for cause, and I think that he is now serving across river down there. And the rest of this was looked at across the board by the DOD IG. They will come out with their statement. I personally don't think that they are going to find that anything in the past accidents was related in any way; that this was an individual that said, we need to not create any falsehoods about our maintenance, about on the numbers of aircraft that are up or whatever. But Ilike I said, during the time that this occurred, none of the airplanes were up because none of them were flying.
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Mr. WELDON. Thank you, General.
Mr. ORTIZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I certainly appreciate you being with us today, and we appreciate the fine work that you do.
IGeneral McCorkle, we had somethingI think it was Brigadier General James Amos, Assistant Commandant for Marine Records, saying that the V22 is high-maintenance. Can you clarify what General Amos meant when he referred to the V22 as high-maintenance?
General MCCORKLE. I am not sure what General Amos, who was my deputy, meant when he said the aircraft was high-maintenance, but I can tell this committee that the aircraft during operation evaluation (OPEVAL), there were very small number of MV22s that were out on the flight line. Right now there are only eight that are out there, and as our young staff sergeant passed on to you, when you first start on the new airplane, and whether you are changing an engine or a transmission or whatever else, maybe Admiral Dyer can speak to that better, it is going to take you longer the first time; and, as he said, three days the first time and then three hours after they had practiced doing this. And perhaps that is what General Amos meant when he said high-maintenance; but to me, this aircraft is going to beas we get it out there into the fleet, and we get the numbers and have maintenance guys that are working on the airplane, you know, get familiar with the airplane, I personally think it is going to be less than the helicopters that we have got now, which are going up maintenance man-hour per flight hour per year, as Admiral Dyer testified.
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Mr. ORTIZ. Admiral Dyer.
Admiral DYER. I think the General has pretty well captured it, Congressman. The flight hours leading to failure are below the threshold for what we hope to achieve and what we expect to achieve. There is some work to be done to make it easier; and as staff sergeant indicated, also, as people become more proficient, we expect those numbers to improve.
We think that the maintenance man-hours per flight hour for the V22 can be as good as 10 or 11, read that more than twice as good as we discussed for the H46 earlier. Right now they are better than the H46 by approximately eight or nine hours, but we think there is still significant improvement available, and that will be part of the review and part of the return to the path production.
General MCCORKLE. And by the way, sir, if I could jump in there, what the admiral just said, the V22 is better than the 46 now, which we have been working with and training people on for 38 years, and that is the airplane that I love.
Mr. ORTIZ. Yes, sir. I think that the sergeant mentioned two areas that he was very concerned with, and that was the hydraulic lines and the software. Is that something that you all are working on now to be sure that it functions properly?
Sergeant FOWLER. Yes, sir. We had the great pleasure several weeks ago, I believe, maybe it was last month, Commandant of the Marine Corps flew 90 of us to the Bell and the Boeing factory here in Philadelphia. It was the first time myself personally I had a chance to do that, and it really completed kind of a circle, if you will, for myself in seeing the whole evolution, the entire process. At both factories I was completely amazed at the teamwork.
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And there has also been reference made to that there haven't been a lot of hard questions asked. Marines are known for their bearing, their discipline, and I was completely amazed at both factories Bell and Boeing offered up engineers and maintenance technicians to answer questions; and I think we went above and beyond anything they were expecting. We asked some very hard questions, and they gave some answers that really, really eased my mind.
They are, from what I saw at Bell, looking at the hydraulic line issue. They have come up with several things. The software issue, the gentleman that was in charge of that really, really took a pounding from a lot of the Marines as far as what has been done, and they have gone through and through there. They have come up with a new type of system, I believe, here at Boeing where three separate maintainersyou have got a software room, a flight control room and then an actual trainer, cockpit trainerall three of those systems are interactive, and all three of them communicate with each other, and ultimately you can access just about any type of failure.
I am sure the major could talk maybe a little bit more from a pilot aspect, but myself as a maintainer and crew chief, I am thoroughly convinced that both factories have come up with some good solutions, are really looking into the fixes, and, you know, where it goes from there is really above my head, but I am thoroughly convinced.
Mr. ORTIZ. Do you work with a civilian work force?
Sergeant FOWLER. Yes, sir, I do.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ORTIZ. And industry is now sharing the information as to, of course, the new technology and the new maintenance and methods that you have to use?
Sergeant FOWLER. Yes, sir. We work right alongside of contract maintenance from Bell and Boeing. Both have representatives there at the squadron. They are kind of the resident experts, if you will, for us Marines that are learning. They are our first chain that we would go to to resolve problems and issues how to go about the maintenance.
We have got a tremendous, tremendous team down there right now, a lot of knowledge base, a lot of people that have great suggestions on what we should do, and that is why I wanted to bring up one of our major focuses is to do this right, but not to go extremely overboard with a complete redesign. We all feel that V22, the 25 hours I have in it were 25 very safe hours. But other than that, like I said, the Command Management System (CMS), maintenance workers down there work right alongside us, and right now we have got a really good team.
Mr. ORTIZ. Very good. I have other questions, but I would like
Mr. WELDON. We will come back for a second round.
Mr. ORTIZ. Thank you very much.
Mr. WELDON. Congressman Evans.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. EVANS. It is good to know that you have the support of your squadron members, but for those that have never been in this aircraft and have read the reports, howis their confidence won by you at this point, do you know, in terms of the people who will be the end users?
Sergeant FOWLER. Yes, sir. Unfortunately, that is wherethat is why the major and myself really relish this opportunity to kind of come out and say, even our own Marines, our own grunts believe what is in the papers. They read, they see what is in the media, and they start to believe, and they start to wonder, you know, is this thing really what they say it is.
And that is my main purpose for being here is that, and the only way that I guess I could put it into terms is that next month I am going to have my ten-year wedding anniversary to my high school sweetheart. I have a beautiful five-year-old son. I just find out Friday I am probably going to be a father again, and I myself would not in any way step on an aircraft that I did not feel was safe. And I told the reporter earlier that what I want to get out is that Marines, you know, ground Marines, air wing Marines, we have our little tussles, and when it all comes down to it, we support each other, you know. The maintainers, we wear the green just like the ones across the river, and I would never jeopardize any of them.
I myself have complete confidence in the V22. Once we resolve the hydraulic and the software issues, which are being looked at; and if I could talk to those Marines, you know, as a whole, I would tell them to have faith and confidence. And many of them, you should see them get on a CH46. You have got to tug them to get them into there to do that even.
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Mr. WELDON. You mean they have hesitations in the 46?
Sergeant FOWLER. Yes, sir. But as far as the V22 goes, I would just relay to them that I have the utmost confidence in it, as I am sure the major does and the maintainers at 204.
Mr. EVANS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. Evans, and thank you for being here.
Mr. Jones, you represent the area most heavily impacted by the most recent crash. I really appreciate you taking the time to come all the way up from North Carolina to be here.
Mr. Jones is one of our staunchest supporters of the military. We appreciate you being here, Walter.
Mr. JONES. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much, and it was the least I could do to show my support for the United States Marine Corps and also to continue as everyone else to express our sympathy to the families that have lost loved ones.
Let me first say, Mr. Chairman, I would like to submit, because I don't think it is the proper timethis deals with depot-level support for the V22I have about four or five questions I would like to submit for written response with the permission of the committee.
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Mr. WELDON. Without objection.
Mr. JONES.to Admiral Dyer and also General McCorkle. Let me say, just if I might, first, that those of us who have the privilege to serve in the United States Congress, many of us do not have the military backgrounds that others might have. But whether we be Republicans or Democrats, we want to do what is right for the United States of America to ensure that this country has the strong military it needs to defend its national security interests. This is a very unsafe world that we live in, and I am not here to go into that.
But I must say that when I read the editorials in some of the liberal press that impugn the integrity of the leadership in the Marine Corps, such as Commandant Jones and General McCorkle and also you, Mr. Chairman, I was offended, not as a Member of Congress, but as an American citizen who pays their taxes, because we do, as Members of Congress, have to make tough decisions, and I was just taken back to the point that I wrote a letter to the Washington Post, shared my anxiety and angers, quite frankly, with the Post and their editorial; but I am only a foot soldier in the United States Congress, so I didn't get my letter printed. But I am sure if I had taken their position, they would have printed the letter. But I took an opposition position to what their editorial led to.
What I would like to say thatto MajorColonelMajor
Major HECKL. Major Heckl, sir.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. JONES. I am trying to promote you, sir. I apologize. What I have always wonderedI went down with Congressman Mike McIntyre from North Carolina and General McCorkle and Commandant Jones to the chapel service after the MV22 went down in Arizona, and I must say that obviously there is no way you can put into wordsit was not my loved one, but it almost felt like it wasto feel the grief and the sadness by each and every one in that chapel, and I think I will always remember Major Gruber's little girl sitting in front of Commandant Jones, General McCorkle, McIntyre and myself and looking into that child's eyes and knowing that she never would know her father. And that is true for all who have been here today who have lost loved ones.
I guess whatto lead to my question is that after the first tragic accident, how did the crews at New Riverwas the morale all of a suddenwere there questions about whether the competence was still in the V22? What would you say was the general mood of those crews after that accident in Arizona?
Major HECKL. Sir, initially I think, you know, pilots and crew members, Marines, we are always, you know, quick to damn, you know, whatever killed a Marine. So we were automatically all very suspect initially; but then as, you know, more evidence came out and we saw more information, we realized that, you know, that that was a specific flight regime of the aircraft. And so I wouldn't say inand you have to keep in mind, sir, that was also when the multiservice operational testing was doing the operational tests on the aircraft. So even though we all knewwe were personal friends with every single one of those guys on the testing, I wouldn't say moraleI mean, it was curious, curious about, you know, potential implications of what was going to happen. But then as the investigation went on, I think cool-headedness prevailed, sir, bottom line. But morale didn'tthe overall sense is it did not diminish at all. I mean, people stayed.
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You, know, there is still to this dayI think it is an interesting fact that as we have lost guys in mishaps, we still have not had a single pilot voluntarily leave the squadron. Now, we have had some pulled away from us. The Marine Corps, we are always pretty thin and operating tight on personnel. We have pulled guys away to do things, but every single one of them went with the stipulation written in their order that the intent was that they return, every one of them. So I think that ought to be the testimony to it. If you are really concerned about the morale or the competence in aircraft, that certainly should speak volumes, in my opinion.
Mr. JONES. I think it does. Let me have one other question, and then I will wait till my next turn.
Mr. Chairman, I read in the summaryand I guess, Admiral Dyer, this might be for you or for General Bailey, recommendations to provide adequate funding for air group ground training, aircraft simulators and upgrade to training devices. I guess you made that assumption after looking at the previous history of the program that maybe more could have been done in that area. Is that correct, or am I incorrect in my assumption?
General DYER. The V22 program, like many acquisition programs, is trying to milk every possible penny out of a dollar. In retrospect, we looked at some areas as we try to turn this into a not only fully satisfactory but a proud program. You touch on one of the areas where we think some investment can contribute to operational effectiveness as well as contribute to safety.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As an example, we are working real-time now with the manned flight simulator at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division at Patuxent River, as well as with the Boeing simulators, to bring in the vortex ring state for power settling training, to look at how we will provide additional audio or visual warnings of areas that are limits to the flight envelopment and; yes, sir, that is an area that is part of the review currently being undertaken and one I can assure you is going to be attended to.
Mr. JONES. Mr. Chairman, my last point would be this, that those of us in the Congress are well aware of this. For too long our military has been asked to do a great deal with less money; and, therefore, they are having too many times to cut programs, whether it be flying time for pilots. I think about the Harrier pilots down at Cherry Point that need an average of 23 hours a month. They get about 10. So I know that is something you in the leadership, Mr. Ortiz, will lead this Congress to ensure that our military gets what it needs to be sure that the men and women in uniform are well trained.
Mr. WELDON. I thank my colleague, and he is absolutely right. The readiness of our troops is in very serious question if we don't get an emergency supplemental, because the military does not have enough money for the flying hours and the steaming hours to allow our troops to be ready to go on a moment's notice. Unfortunately, the American people are not aware of this. The American people think that somehow we have too much money for defense. The fact is if we don't get a supplemental from the Administration within the next several weeks so we can act on it, we are going to have units shut down and stop their operation. And I am sure when Mr. Schrock gets his turn, he will mention that from his standpoint in Virginia.
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The American people need to understand; we are asking these young people to go out there and risk their lives and we are not giving them the support that they need, partly because the American people have been lulled into a false sense of complacency. In my opinion, they have been dumbed down over the past several years, about eight years, to the point that they think we have given the military too much money. And unfortunately, we are paying the price for that right now.
Mr. REYES. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I also would like to offer my condolences to all the families that have paid the price for keeping our country free. I have got a couple of different areas. First, General McCorkle, Brigadier James Amos, who is the Assistant Deputy Commandant for Marine Aviation, is on record as saying that the V22 is high maintenance. Could you perhaps clarify what he meant by that statement?
General MCCORKLE. Well, we touched on that a little bit earlier, I think, in talking about new aircraft. We have eight MV22s sitting on the flight line in New River now, not counting the test vehicles at Pax River. And sometimes it may take three days to change a part when you are first starting, and then once you get familiar with it or the individuals that are working on the airplane get more experienced, it will be about three hours. As Vice Admiral Dyer said, that even with that, when you look at the maintenance man-hours per flight hours to fly this airplane, for it to be a brand new airplane, for individuals to be very inexperienced that are working on the airplane, the maintenance man-hours per flight hour are less than the CH46 that we have been flying for over 30 years.
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Mr. REYES. So in spite of the fact that this is, as you said, a new aircraft and at the samecomparing it to other previous aircraft, high maintenance is not unusual. There isn't any anomaly here because of the tiltrotor capability
General MCCORKLE. In Fred McCorkle's opinion, it is probably far better than the CH46 when it came in and certainly the 53-Echo, because I was around during that time. And I will sayand Vice Admiral Dyer has also touched on thisin getting the parts support or whatever for a new aircraft when it first comes in, when you are living from paycheck to paycheck, if you will, you know, and everything is really tight in there, we would wait on a couple of occasions three days to receive a part that was broken on one of the MV22s at New River to get a new part in. And on some occasions, even during the OPEVAL, we were taking parts off of the production line to fly them out to Arizona to fix the airplanes that were out there, because we just didn't have enough money in the program to buy the parts.
Mr. REYES. Thank you, General. Staff Sergeant Fowler, I am kind of curious. You made a statement that you had been provided access to the Boeing people that actually put the aircraft together. Can you give us just a couple of examples of the kinds of hard questions that you askedthat impressed you in the context of the job that you do and you carry out with that aircraft that they are putting together?
Sergeant FOWLER. Yes. Yes, sir. Some of the questions that were asked at Boeing specifically were related to the software manufacture and what process they are going through now to ensure that what happened to Crossbow 08 won't happen again. Unfortunately, he is an engineer and I am not, so I probably can't relay everything that was said there. But the three-system trainerMajor Heckl, do you know what the name of it is?
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Major HECKL. It is just a triple tie-in lab, sir.
Sergeant FOWLER. A triple tie-in lab. It dealt a lot with that, which is a capability that they didn't have prior to that. At the Bell factory, we specifically discussed the hydraulics, the hydraulic tubing, the access to the inboard side of the nacelles where their hydraulic tubes there that we couldn't see prior unless it went to a major maintenance evolution. All those areas were being worked. One of the proposals that I really liked about the hydraulic tubing was to go to a new type of clamping system, where now you may have a clamp on top and a clamp on bottom, secured in the middle by a bolt. From vibration and after a while, that bolt becomes loose. The lines move. The next thing you know, you have got a chafing condition.
One of the proposals that I really liked, in my opinion, was to go to a new type of clamping system, where there arethere is no hardware involved, and it mounts more than two lines together, where fourso all four lines would support each other and prevent each other from moving. Another option brought up was coating the hydraulic lines with a new type of coating that has come out.
Either way, the feeling that I walked away with from both factories as that they were very genuine in providing the Marine Corps and 204 with a high quality product. You know, things like this and what has happened in the past have obviously brought up issues; and I was very pleasantly surprised and very impressed byquite frankly, at the role that both Bell and Boeing were willing to take to make sure that the V22 is the best quality product.
And real quick, sir, if you don't mind, getting back to the high maintenance issue question that you just posed, one of the major issues that we are experiencing now in the phase, where we have taken an aircraft that normally 210 hours, and you pretty much strip it down, go through it with a fine-tooth comb, and you figure out where all the problem areas are, what needs to be replacedone of our major concerns right nowand funding really is way over my head, but I can tell you there is a lot of concern about simple things, maintenance stands. There are new maintenance stands that have to be involved with the V22. If one crew is working over here and it is going to take them two hours and we only have the one maintenance stand, there's two hours of maintenance that goes by that we couldn't do.
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Same issue with tools. We are running into a lot of problems where we don't have the tools we need. The type of hazardous material that is required, we are always having to go off and order them. Like the General said, you know, there was a time there where partsto get a screw, a simple screw and not a bolt that kept an aircraft down took three days. So, you know, from an outside opinion as a maintainer, I don't know if that is all related to funding, but I do know that the support equipment and the Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants (POL) issues, those things, definitely, in my opinion, would be related to funding.
So I hope I answered your question, sir.
Mr. REYES. Yes, you did. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. WELDON. I don't know about the three in the center. I hope you don't mind, but these two guys on the end, they are hitting it, because they don't have prepared statements. And not that you are not speaking from the heart, but these guys are out there; and it is great when we get a chance to interrogate them directly. We are not doing this to slight you. You will get your chance, General, I am sure.
My good colleague, Mr. Sherwood, our newest appropriator in Congress.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Thank you, Mr. Weldon, and thank you, gentlemen, for testifying. I am going to wind up on this a little more than I often do, because I think if I give you a little bit of my thinking, it will help to know why I am asking the tough questions. I think that if we are going to honor, truly honor those men that have lost their lives and all that have lost their lives over the generations to defend America, we have got to get to the bottom of this problem; and we have been comparing this very new modern aircraft that I will accept for a given that we need desperately to an old, old helicopter.
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And, you know, when that helicopter was being developed, I was a young lieutenant in the Ordnance Corps; and I was in charge of a big maintenance shop for the Army; and since that time, although it has been a long time since I have been on active duty, I have been involved in the specification and maintenance of heavy trucks all my life, and there are no heavythe average age of the heavy trucks on the highway that you compete with as you drive your cars is about six years old. There are none out there that are as old as the helicopters we are trying to fly.
So we know that we need this new program. That is a given, and we know that our Marines are doing the best that they can. That is a given. But I don't think there is one of us in this room that don't understand what General Amos meant by high maintenance. We have problems. We have problems that are going to kill more Marines if we don't get them solved. And of course the overriding issue is, do you kill more Marines with this new plane or without it? And of course in battle we would kill more without it, because we need it, but we still have to solve that problem. There is no way that we can sit here and do our job, or the military defense establishment at the highest levels can do their job, unless we solve these problems.
And I would like to ask today what the systematic problems are in our development, procurement, and transfer system that we have these problems with this new plane. I do not accept it as a given that because we have a new aircraft, we have to kill Marines with it. We have to get to the bottom of this problem today, and I think we have all been hiding behind the flag a little bit and the extreme esprit de corps of the Marine Corps, which we know and all respect; but I don't think we will gain anything today by proving that this plane is better than the 38-year-old helicopter. We have got to find out why this plane isn't as good as it should be.
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And General McCorkle, I guess you are on. I will start with you.
General MCCORKLE. As I think somebodyI think someone mentioned up here earlier that you can continue and continue and continue to put money into something; but if you look across the whole spectrum of all the airplanes that the Marine Corps operates today, I don't think that you will find one where we have the APM5 or the spares or part support that is acceptable to me as an individual that is running Marine aviation.
I can tell you that those come from an individual that is a very, very good friend of mine, and Vice Admiral Joe Dyer and I have known each other for a while, and whenever I go to him, he says, you know, no one part is more important than the whole. And I think that I could never find fault with that, whether we are talking about an AV8 or a 53-Echo or whatever else down the line.
This aircraft is a new aircraft. There are things that we do need to do on reliability or maintainability, other things of the learning curveI think that we have come very high on this with the new airplanes that we have had. Something that hadn't been mentioned today that the aircraft that is sitting today down on the production line in Amarillo has 85 fixes that were not on the aircraft that we had in OPEVAL earlier on. Eighty-five. There are 30 more that are funded and that are in there, thanks to individuals like Joe Dyer. And I think that we ought to getI think that at the same time, sir, you say it is not right to compare it to an old airplane. And it is not.
In 1956, the Department of the Navythat does not include my friends in the Air Force or the Armylost 756 airplanes and one hell of a lot of American lives, Marines and sailors out there. I think that the numbers were about 2,000 in the Department of Defense in that year. Last year, between the Navy and Marine Corps, we lost 23 airplanes, down from 756 in 1956. Twenty-three is unacceptable to me until we get down to one.
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But we have accidents out on the highway; we have accidents in airplanes. Everyone right now this year where we have had accidents, the Navy and the Marine Corps are headed toward their best year ever. I think the Air Force is in the same boat. So we are working very hard to correct errors of the past, and I think that we are in the process of doing that and actually have done that and; like I said, 85 fixes on the MV22 that have been done and things that are making this aircraft safer, that individuals like our young Staff Sergeant and young Major have said, you know, we can do this better. And I think that we are doing that right now on the production line.
Mr. SHERWOOD. I know that your Marines are doing the best with this aircraft that they can do, and I think the fact that they have found 85 things that need to be fixed on it point that out. And I know that we need more money in the programs, and I have a perfect voting record from your point of view on that. I have voted for more money for the military every time, but we need more than more money. We need better management; and I don't think we should accept that a plane that they give to you, that the software doesn't work and that needs 85 fixes. I think we are asking these two young men on the ends of the table to do the impossible, and I think that that is my responsibility and your responsibility. I think they are living up to theirs.
General MCCORKLE. I would also be the first to say that we need to hold all of the managers out there, their feet to the fire, you know, whether they are military or civilian
in taking products. And I could go after product after product here of aircraft that we aren't accepting right now because software fixes aren't completed in the airplane, and we are working hard toward that end, sir.
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Mr. SHERWOOD. General, when did you receive the first Osprey at the Marine Corps?
General MCCORKLE. Fromfrom now, sir?
Mr. SHERWOOD. No. When did you get the first one to use? How long have we had it?
General MCCORKLE. I think that the first operational aircraft that we received was during OPEVAL, because this program had been set back so many times. Full operational or the initial operational capability (IOC) of the MV22 was planned to be in 1992. That program kept slipping, as you know, sir, down the line; and I believe that it was October of 1990 or somewhere in that area that we got the first operational airplane.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Well, that is what I am trying to establish for the record, about how many years it has been that your people have had to put up with this problem.
General MCCORKLE. I will take that exact date for the record, sir, but when we started into OPEVAL, we were just gettingwe started OPEVAL with one airplane, we were taking the airplanes off the production line so that our learning ramp was straight up, because we didn't haveall we had were the test vehicles from Admiral Dyer when we entered OPEVAL.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SHERWOOD. What I am trying to get at is I know the men that work on the assembly line that build these aircraft are doing the best possible job they can, and I know that your Marines are doing the best possible job they can, but I am wondering if we need to look a little inwardly at our upper level management on development and production. And I have probably taken as much time in this hearing as I should, but we will develop that as we go on. Thank you very much, gentlemen.
Mr. WELDON. Mr. Sherwood, you can ask as many questions as you would like, and we will be glad to come back and do a second round. Now we go to our host and someone who represents this city as well as anyone I have every met, a tireless advocate and someone who came from the ranks of organized labor, so he understands the importance of labor being involved in these programs. Our good friend and a member of this subcommittee, Bob Brady from Philadelphia.
Mr. BRADY. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just have two real short questions. Being from the Marine Corps family, I know what family means; and Major, if there were three vehicles out there, three aircraft out there right now, the 46, the 53 and the V22, and your family is in the fire zone, what are you jumping in?
Major HECKL. Sir, there would be no question that I would get in the V22, but I think also that it would, you know, is it 500 nautical miles away? Because that is about how far I can fly in this airplane; and how fast do you want me to get there, are things that I am going to do when I do my mission planning.
But, sir, I mean, if you are asking, sir, as far as my confidence level that Iyou know, my family, absolutely, sir. I mean, I am serious in that. And when I say thatand I think I represent the sentiment of the squadron as a whole, that is this thing work free? No. It is not, but there is nothing that is perfect.
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And again I go back to the whole issue ofthe whole point that somehow, sir, we have gotten to the point where we expect this airplane to be absolutely 100 percent perfect; and there is no such thing in Marine aviation, not at least as I have flown in my 2,500 hours certainly. I can tell you about trips I had in the CH46 trying to get that thing back from the West Coast when General McCorkle was my group commander and I had a gunny in the back safety wiring a fuel control opening so the engine would operate. And as a young lieutenant when I asked him, well, what do I do if I have to shut it down in an emergency, he said, sir, I will run back there with a pair of swipes and hopefully get it shut off.
So I am kind of missing the point here a little bit on that whole issue, but the aircraft and not to mention the fact that my family wholeheartedly supports it, everybody from my wife and my two little daughters, as much as they know and they love to see it fly, to my parents back home in Georgia, so confidence in the aircraft, sir, if I had to hop in there and get my family out, in a heartbeat.
Mr. BRADY. Staff Sergeant.
Sergeant FOWLER. Yes, sir. Same thing. Absolutely. Like I stated from the beginning, I have complete confidence; and I hope, you know, the panel is not sensing a trend of hoorah and semper fi and
Mr. BRADY. Nothing wrong with that, Staff Sergeant.
Sergeant FOWLER. Absolutely not, sir, but like the Major said, we do acknowledge that there are some issues that need to be looked at, but as far as faith in the aircraft, I have complete and utmost faith in the aircraft. And that is why when the day comes that we are authorized to step back on that aircraft, I will be one of the first ones, if I am on the flight schedule. I have that much faith in the aircraft. In my entire career as a CH46 crew chief, I have not beenthere are several types of fliers, those that just go and take whatever happens and then those that are cautious. I have always been a cautious aviator, so I would not step on an aircraft, and definitely not my family, on anything I didn't believe in.
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And real quick, sir, if I may address the question you asked prior about the changes that we could make. I failed to bring up that is one of things that we also looked at, at the Boeing factory here, is some things were brought up as far as the Marine Corps reporting system on hazardous materials, and we were quite astonished. Not everyone had gotten those things. And I think the main thing that came out of that scenario was that between everyone there, they realized there was a lack of communication in certain cases. And that isto my understanding, Boeing is heading that up with great vigor, to make sure that there is a network-type system, where the Bell, the Boeing, the Marine Corps, everyone can get online and ask the questions that need to be asked and come up with the solutions that need to be found.
Mr. BRADY. Thank you. Major, one more quick question. If you yourself were in the fire zone and you were going to be transported out, for safety, for medical, who would you want to see come and get you?
Major HECKL. Absolutely the V22, sir. I mean, there is no doubt about it. And once weyou know, everybody listens to Admiral Dyer and General McCorkle and we do the right things and we fund the aircraft, you know, and let us get back to doing what we do, you get the young Marines down here in maintenance control, down in the maintenance shops, give them a little time with this airplane, and I guarantee you they will knock your socks off. And then it is up to me to take it from that point and really perfect the tactical employment of the airframe. That is all we want to do, sir.
And, you know, a final point here is I don't think any of usthere is something here that is kind of missing, too, is that I don't think for a minuteI don't think any guy down at the squadron or a female Marine thought for one minute that any of our leadership, fromand I have never personally met Admiral Dyerbut from Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to the Commandant to General McCorkle, would ever put us in an aircraft that we knew was unsafe. And it goes for my commanding officer (CO) as well, Colonel Dundin, down at the squadron. It would never happen. And that is probably where the morale comes from and the motivation for the airplane. We have that much confidence in our leadership. We don't think everybody is just recklessly risking our lives, you know, because I am sure General McCorkle would not like to have to face my wife if something ever happened to me. So I am pretty confident on that one.
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Mr. WELDON. Would the gentleman yield on that?
Mr. BRADY. Sure.
Mr. WELDON. Just to add to that, I did a three-hour interview with Mike Wallace before he did his 20-minute segment. He told me he was going to be fair. I did three hours documenting part of what you just said. He used 30 seconds of my comments to portray a story he had already written. He didn't want to hear the facts. He didn't want the American people to hear the facts. I wish every American could sit through a hearing like this and then come to their own conclusion.
Major HECKL. Well, sir, wewhen the article came out in the Post talking about pilots criticize leadership, we took great offense down there, I mean, great offense. And just for the record, for factual record, not for what the Post publishedand I guess I can get in trouble for saying that.
Mr. WELDON. No, you can't.
Major HECKL. We hadthe CO of the squadron got every single pilot in the ready room, and where that story came from we don't know. We wrote a rebuttal, and it took almost three weeks to get this emasculated, scaled-down, defanged version of an article printed in the Post, because very simply put, by one of their editors, she told me on the phone, the writers, Mrs. Mary Pat Flattery and Tom Ritz, had issue with what the pilots had to say, and we were, needless to say, greatly agitated at the Washington Post.
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Mr. WELDON. You mean the Post put words into your mouth in terms of what you could say?
Major HECKL. Sir, I can assure you that there will never be another Marine at that squadron who will even cordially entertain conversation with any of them, simply because of thehow it can be misconstrued and taken out of context.
Mr. WELDON. My colleague might want to ask the Sergeant, who is also shaking his head. Maybe he has some additional comments on that point.
Mr. BRADY. Sergeant, I ask you that same question. If you are in a fire zone and you needed to be transported, whether for safety or for medical, what do you want to see come and get you?
Sergeant FOWLER. V22 without a doubt, sir, which brings me to another point. As I walked in, I saw the Coast Guard version of the 609; and when I left the Senate hearings the first time, I thought about all the things I wish I would have said and laid out on the table, and one of the first things that came to my mind was, can you imagine the implications of a hospital version of a 609 on, you know, roads or highways, where people need to wait on the life flight helicopters toyou know, where minutesmatters of minutes count in lives saved?
And, again, I say, you know, the Major and myself didn't come here with anything prepared. These are just things that I truly thought of, and I hope people understand that it is that kind of capability that has given me such complete faith in this aircraft. It is not that I want to make sure the Marine Corps gets it or anything. It is just that I really believe the raw potential of this aircraft is that phenomenal, that it just completely floored me. The Major told a story last time abouton the day of the accident, flying from Charleston, South Carolina, up to somewhere in Virginia, and we had never done that in 46s. It was a two-day, three-day evolution.
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Same thing, you know. We flew up to Virginia, up around the mountains and back home in a type of training evolution that we couldn't have done in a 46 unless we were on a computer-assisted exercise (CAX). So absolutely, I wouldI would definitely seek out a V22 to take me out any day.
Mr. BRADY. Thank you, and thank the distinguished panel, and thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. Brady. And now one of our career Navy officers who represents a lot of sailors, Mr. Schrock.
Mr. SCHROCK. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. It was worth coming here today just to hear the Sergeant and Major, so I'm glad we fought through the fog to get here. Our military is in dreadful shape, and we need to address that, and the American people need to understand that. But they don't understand that. John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and, I am proud to say, the senior Senator from Virginia, came to our area about a year and a half ago and said the military is in the worst shape it has been in in decades. We have planes flying that don't have enough parts on them to keep them safe up there. We have ships going to sea without enough people on them to man them. Nothing is working right, and we need to do something about that. If you understand, in the last ten years our military has been cut by 40 percent while the mission requirements have gone up 400 percent; and we in Congress have not given them the money to do that, and I think that is unforgivable on our part and we need to do something about it.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I was flying back from San Francisco a year ago, sat next to a former major in the Air Force. He was 35 and I said, a former major, what's that all about? He said, sir, I was flying planes day in and day out, week in, week out, month in, month out, and absolutely no maintenance was occurring on them, and I wasn't sure when I came back the next morning whether parts that were there the night before would be there. And my wife said to me one day, you know, we have got three small kids; one day you are going up and you are not coming back. What would I do? He is a smart guy. He got out and got a big high-paying job in Silicon Valley. But we needed that guy and we needed the hundreds and hundreds of others who have gotten out for the same reason. And I don't blame the military for that. I blame Congress for that, for not making sure the money is there to keep these planes flying.
The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Admiral Clark, told me recently if we don't get this supplemental, he starts parking planes about a week and a half on the first of June. General Ryan, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, told me the same thing. He is going to start parking them on 1 August.
Yes, I believe we need a top-down review. There is no question about that. The President has made it very clear he wants to do three things, get morale up, because, folks, in the last eight years morale has been destroyed. He wants to pay our men and women in uniform what they are worth, and we are starting to do that. But he also said we need a strategic vision, and we are doing that. But we have got to get moving on this thing, because we are dying on the vine out there and these guys need the money to make sure we can at least get through this year as well.
Let me mention one thing about the Washington Post. I agree with you completely. I was a public affairs officer for 21 of my 24 years; and don't ever believe what that paper says, because if you do, you are going to be in trouble, but they do us all a great disservice. But unfortunately, our message is not getting out there. When I was a candidate last year, 25 Members25 candidates that thought they had a chance to win were brought to Washington, and we were given three days of briefings on all sorts of topics. The last topic, the last hour, the last day was defense, which really bothered me, because I thought what is that all about. When I got down, one of the guys, who is currently a Member, stood up and said, what are we worrying about defense for? We are at peace. At which point I was on my feet for about ten minutes so they would understand.
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The message just isn't getting out there, because everybody is fat, dumb and happy. Everybody has got a job. They think we are at peace. We are not. The threat is greater now than it ever has been, and we are going to get slammed one of these days in this country, and we darn well better get our act together to make sure that doesn't happen.
How many times do you hearhow many stories do you hear on the nightly news that tell you how many planes landed safely every night? Never, never. And, granted, this is a horrible thing that these Ospreys went down, and I regret that that happened, but unfortunately when you are doing research and development and you are testing, that is going to happen.
I feel horrible for the families that are affected, but unfortunately, this is just a fact of life in this business. Hearings like this are very important, and we need to do them all over the country so the American public knows how bad things are and what we need to do to fix them. All that leading up to one question, and then I will stop.
We need the Osprey system. There is actually no question in my mind that we need it, but as Congressman Sherwood says, it needs to be as safe as humanly possible. But the 46s and the 53s have been out there a long time, and we have talked about them a lot. The major said that they are older than he is. Through my eyes that doesn't seem old, but I guess for an aircraft that is very old.
But at what point do the 46s and the 53s just stop running and we can't operate them anymore because they are becoming maintenance nightmares, and they are eating a hole in the budget like you can't believe; but at what point do we just stop flying those things, and if we don't have a new system, we will be in big trouble?
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General MCCORKLE. Well, I will answer that from an operator's point of view. I think that the CH46, we are already short a couple of squadrons out there just because of attrition over the years, and as I said earlier, the MV22 was supposed to be here in 1992. We have actually been very, very lucky in our accident rate for the CH46, but we are still down a couple of squadrons.
I personally think that it is going to be most difficult with any schedule that we have to fill the MV22 before the 53D goes off the end of the Earth. And my good friend Joe Dyer and I have said that four or five times; but that is very true, very, very honest individual. He and I worked together all the time. The 53D, which the MV22 also is going to replace, is right on the edge maintenance wise and everything else; and in Fred McCorkle's opinion, that airplane is going to start coming apart here within a couple years, and the MV22 will not be there to replace it withit is going to be very difficult with the schedule that we did have, and this is if everything goes right.
Mr. SCHROCK. That would be a shame. Thank you.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. Schrock.
Our final Member, and he is only last because he ishe is on the committeefull committee member who should have been further high up on the priority order, and I apologize because he has been one of thenot only the most tireless advocates for our military, but on a number of issues involving technology in this region. So, Rob, I apologize for the protocol. You should have been much higher on the priority list for doing questions, but he is one oflike Bob Brady and the other Members, one of my good friends, a solid Member. We don't share the same political party, but I think our voting records are probably as close as any two Members can get on issues that affect America. He is a great American and a great Member, and he always tells it like it is. From Camden, from across the river, Congressman Rob Andrews.
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Mr. ANDREWS. Thank you because of your indulgence here. You need not apologize. I am a member of the full committee, but not of the subcommittee, but happy to be an interloper today with you.
I think we are here today to acknowledge a tragedy, a series of tragedies, but also to prevent further tragedy. The tragedy that Mrs. Brow and other families in the entire Armed Services family has felt, the American family has felt, is undeniable; and the depth of it is very consequential to everyone associated with it. I join with the other members of this panel in expressing personal condolences to all those who felt the sting of that tragedy; and I know that, frankly, includes everyone who has spoken today.
The tragedy that we want to avoid, though, is the tragedy of putting our warfighters in the situations not armed as well as they should be and not being able to get them out of situations that are dangerous because we can't get them out fast enough, efficiently enough. And I think a point of consensus that has emerged today was spoken with typical eloquence by Mrs. Brow, who said that she was not here to kill the program, just to make sure that it is done right. And I think we have a responsibility to her, to the other families involved and to all those who are not directly involved to make sure that happens.
There is a lot of uncertainty about this, and I think Mr. Sherwood's questions were very well-focused. One thing that I am certain about is that there is no one who wears the uniform of this country, I am certain of this, who would ever knowingly put a young man or a young woman into an avoidably dangerous situation. I am certain of that. What I am not certain of is whether all the things were done that should have been done and all the information is out that should be out about how we got to the point that we are at today.
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I wanted to ask General McCorkle a couple of questions about that.
On page nine of your testimony, you make reference to the ongoing investigation by the Inspector General (IG) about unresolved allegations of malfeasance, allegations of malfeasance and suggestions of program instability. In your tenure, have you ever or anyone reported to you ever failed to receive an answer to a question you have asked of a contractor in this program?
General MCCORKLE. I think that both contractors, both Bell and Boeing, and the subcontractors, such as Rolls Royce and other individuals out there, have gone out of their way to keep me informed. I consider myself to be nosier than most of the flight officers around, and I think that my two fellow flight officers up here will agree with that 100 percent. I work very hard since I have seen this program, since I was a major, to make sure that industry supported the program like they should. Lots of times industry will tell you, we can only support for the amount of money we have on parts or whatever else. I think that because of the leadership in these programs, and I will pass this to Mr. Sherwood, that there have been at least ten individuals in management that have been replaced on the highway of life out there, as I say, because they felt like that they weren't doing the best job that they could do.
I will also tell you, and with my two fellow Marines sitting up here with me, that while management has learned from this, the Marine Corps has also learned from this airplane, you know, and the capables that we could do, how far you could push the airplane, how forgiving the airplane was, just like we have done in other times down the line. So I think industry has been as fair on this airplane as I have seen them on any other aircraft since I have been in the procurement business.
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Mr. ANDREWS. One of your obviously admirable Marine Corps traits is you are very direct. Have you ever asked anybody a direct question and not gotten the answer you are looking for with respect to contractors up to this moment?
General MCCORKLE. No, no, I haven't.
Mr. ANDREWS. Has anybody to your knowledge given youryou or your subordinates given inaccurate or misleading information about this program?
General MCCORKLE. No, they haven't. I have been let down before on answers that I have been given, but that isone of those is the defensive weapons system for the MV22, which has nothing to do with this hearing, and that didn't work out like I wanted to; but no, sir.
Mr. ANDREWS. On the issue of operational safety?
General MCCORKLE. Absolutely not.
Mr. ANDREWS. It is my understanding your testimony is you are satisfied that everything you wanted to know you know.
General MCCORKLE. Absolutely.
Mr. ANDREWS. And the final question I have is for Admiral Dyer. I know that on the last page of your statement, you say that will you will be the approving authority for the entrance into return-to-flight testing and return-to-fleet training phases of this program. What are you going to be looking for before you give the okay to do that?
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Admiral DYER. What I described to you in that paper is the pulling up of decision-making authority above the levels where we ordinarily make it, and it refreshes our dedication to ensuring, as I said before, not only that we are doing the right things, but that we establish the confidence that we are doing the right things.
My interest areas arefocus areas a better wordare the aeromechanical aspects of the airplane, which I believe to be low-risk, but we have some testing to complete. I will come back; and if you want to go into any of these specifically, we can do it.
Aeromechanical aspects, the issue of production quality vis-a-vis design latitude, the software testing and verification module by module, and then what is not a safety-related issue, but what very much speaks to the efficiency of the program over time is the reliability and maintainability issues that reflect what it will cost across the life cycle to support this airplane, sir.
Mr. ANDREWS. I thank you all, and let me just commend the chairman on the staff sergeant and the major, their voices from the field. And Mr. Schrock just said, and I agree with him, that it is refreshing to hear people that are just junior enough that they know how to be candid. There is a cultureand I mean no disrespect to your senior officersthere is a culture of couching things in ways to be polite and admire your senior officers for doing that. That is a good trait; but it is very refreshing in our world to hear people who tell it as they see it, unvarnished. We thank you not only for your service, but for your excellent testimony today.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Congressman Andrews. What I am going to do, let me ask one question, and I am going to submit a number of questions for the record that I would ask you to respond to.
General McCorkle, have you been rushed in this program, which some of the media have allegedhave you been rushed to put this program forward?
General MCCORKLE. No, sir. I am glad you asked that for the record, because when Major Fred McCorkle walked into the headquarters of the Marine Corps in 1980, in 1982, the decision was made that we would do a tiltrotor aircraft. I was not happy with that, like my young staff sergeant friend. I was a dyed-in-the-wool CH46 pilot. The decision was made. I said, you know, we will go that route; how long is it going to take? 1984, they said, the airplane will be here. We will have two squadrons out there, train each squadron and an operational squadron in 1992. It is now 2001. I would like to see an operational squadron before I go in the rest home, sir. We have not been rushed.
Mr. WELDON. General, would it be safe to say that the program has been starved dollarwise, and you have had to push milestones out? Has that caused some of the problems we are currently experiencing?
General MCCORKLE. The program has been starved dollarwise; but I think in fairness to my Air Force and Navy friends sitting on either side of me, every new aviation program has been starved, and all the old ones have been starved. I hear people talk about, well, what are we going to do with the budget, you know, as far as the defense budget? I can't say that the defense budget needs to be bigger, but I can't see how the Department of Defense is going to be any smaller or how the number of commitments are going to be any smaller; and if they aren't, then something is going to have to give because it costs money to fly these airplanes.
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Mr. WELDON. And I didn't mean to cast negative feelings toward the admiral or the general. I think they knew what I am getting at. Because if you look at tactical (TAC) air, the F18, the F22, the Joint Strike Fighterwell, I will let you two respond. Are we shortchanging all of those programs right now dollarwise and all of our tactical aviation programs? Admiral, are you in a position to answer that question?
Admiral DYER. Certainly if you are from back home, it takes an awful lot of money to fund our business, but yes, sir, we do see stress across the board, and the most worrisome part of that is that while we attend to safety, and I want you to be assured of that, we do not and will not put aircraft into service, be they either new ones or old ones, that do not represent good technical conscience. That is my job, and I feel strongly about it.
But I will tell you that in areas of training, and simulators, and logistics support, and spare parts and obsolescence, that we are challenged, and that we are stressed with old legacies for that, the keeping of which is making it exceedingly difficult to recapitalize, so we are pulled both ways, Chairman. That is the essence of it.
Mr. WELDON. General, did you want toanything to add?
General BAILEY. Nothing, sir.
Mr. WELDON. Other Members?
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Mr. ORTIZ. I am going to submit some questions for the record, but one of the things I would like to maybeand maybe you cannot discuss it in an open meeting like this, but since the CH46 helicopter is not fast enough, and the Harrier has gone out of the business, out of inventory, how is the Marine Corpshow do you plan to provide in-ground security as the V22 flies an extended-range mission; how are you going to do that? You know, we had the Somalia sustainability that we might need, and how are you going to do that? And maybe this is not the proper forum to do that.
General MCCORKLE. I think it is fine to do it in here, sir. That is a question that I have heard many times: Why are we buying the MV22 when we don't have a helicopter fast enough or a fixed wing can't cover it? I think that most of that that you read is some fantasyland thing that someone has drummed up in the paper again.
First Lieutenant Fred McCorkle went into Laos 14 straight days. I went in an airplane that was 120 knots. I was covered by an Air Force F4, not Marine F4, but Air Force F4s, on every one of those missions and by a Huey by 80 knots, which was 33 percent slower than my CH46. So I have lived with that my entire career, and I keep reading it in the paper, you know, that you can't do this or can't do that, and I think that the F18, the 88, the Joint Strike Fighter in the future, and the four-bladed Huey and four-bladed Cobra are going to do just fine in providing air support for an MV22 going into harm's way.
Mr. ORTIZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to submit a number of questions for the record.
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Mr. WELDON. Without objection.
Mr. JONES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to ask Admiral Dyer, General McCorkle and General Bailey just for the record as we are concluding this hearing, which I think has been extremely beneficial, let me first ask the Navy, do you feel that your fighter pilots are getting enough time in the cockpit to be combat-proficient? If not, how much time do you think they need in the cockpit as training for combat?
Admiral DYER. Well, let me couch it first. The answer to your question about how many hours is very platform-specific and mission-specific, so I would defer perhaps for the record a detailed discussion of that.
But let me answer your question, I think I can, in a general sense. Today's deployed forces are as good as they have ever been, and we are operationally ready when your Navy goes with a carrier or with an Air Reserve Component (ARC) into other parts of the world to represent our country's interest. It is back home on the turnaround cycle where we suffer because we take parts and electronic warfare equipment and money away from those folks that should be trained preparing to go on the next cycle, and this is where we suffer.
You probably heard some of us discuss what we call the bathtub; that is, deployed readiness is good, but it gets worse and worse, read that deeper and deeper, back during the turnaround cycle. This, by the way, is one of our real morale and retention challenges. General McCorkle and I in our youthI am sure the major right now, if we are actively engaged in the business that we love, we are happy folks. If we are waiting to fly while equipment is taken away from us to represent America's deployed interests, then we are suffering, and that is where I find the problem, Congressman.
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Mr. JONES. General Bailey, would you respond to that?
General BAILEY. Yes, sir, I will. Ilooking back subjectively on my experience, we have been in extended periods in Air Force-based operations command of reconstitution that really stretches back all the way to the conclusion of the air war over Serbia. When our forces had been deployed to Brindisi in Italy for an eight-year period, there was a stretch in a very small community of folks for operations tempo (OPTEMPO) problems; but since that time when we came out of Serbia or when we came out of the air war and closed Brindisi, we have been in an extended period of reconstitution.
I feel very, very good about the current state of readiness. We are flying our programs that are fully funded at both the Air Force level and the Special Operations level. So I think you have got a pocket that may be a little bit different from some of the other things you are seeing, but our readiness is at an all-time high, and every statistic that I look at supports that.
Mr. JONES. General McCorkle.
General MCCORKLE. We think in the Marine Corps that we need somewhere between 20 and 25 hours a month plus a simulator time to be proficient. You would be happy to know, by the way, that the last couple of months the AV8 pilots in Cherry Point are averaging 20 hours apiece. I have demanded that, as the guy that runs the Marine aviation, to say we are not going to do with less than that; and I would tell this committee that I was just asked to give up a KC130J to pay for the Flying Air Program for the remainder of the year. I refused to do that, and I talked to the Commandant about it, and I told the Commandant I would recommend if we get to that point that we will park airplanes via set with 42-year-old KC130s. And the Commandant agreed, and we said that we weren't going to give it up.
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So right now we are flying 20 to 25 hours, depending on the community, as Admiral Dyer says; but if we don't have a supplementaland you mentioned the Air Force and the Navy, the Marine Corps, I think, stops flying around July or the end of July.
Mr. JONES. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. Jones.
Mr. REYES. I don't have any other questions.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you.
Mr. SHERWOOD. It has been my observation in the last three years that our readiness is good only because of the extraordinary effort of the services. We know that we haven't given you enough to operate with, and I have been in Kosovo and I have been in Bosnia and visited troops over there, and I am just super impressed with how they are making do and making it work, but that is another definition of this hearing. Money is fungible, and if we spend too much of it correcting our new plane that we desperately need because our old ones are long out of date, then we have less money for training. If we commit you too often to far corners of the globe, we have less money left over for training and spare parts and ammunition. It all comes down to management, and it is tough to do.
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If I could get back, I think there is threea couple of things I would like to ask that I don't think we have; tell me about the vortex ring state, and we have read in the papers, but rather than rely on what we read in the papers, I would like to hear it from the horse's mouth how big a problem is it, do we have it defined, do we know what the flight envelope of this new plane is, and is there an air speed indicator reliable enough that the pilots know where they are?
General MCCORKLE. I will give it to you from an operator's point of view first, although I have talked to a lot of engineers, and then let Admiral Dyer see if he wants to add.
Vortex ring state I had never heard of. I am a helicopter pilot. Helicopters get into it all the time. We call it power settling. I have testified a couple of times that I was in power settling twice in Vietnam, when Imy ready descent was too high coming in one time in Laos to try and pick up an emergency extract. I just happened to be on the edge of a mountain, a 6,000-foot mountain, where I could go off the side of the mountain or I wouldn't be here today.
Vortex range state is something you don't get into. If you get into it, then it is most difficult to get out of it; and you are probably going to crash the airplane. I hear people talk about how you get out of it; it is most difficult to get out of. Most of our helicopter manuals say 800 feet per minute below 40 knots. I am not sure how much testing was ever done for that. Then I hear people talk about the MV22 and that the testing wasn't done.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There was more testing, I would bet, done on the MV22 than all the other Marine helicopters put together in the history of the Marine Corps, perhaps the Air Force and Navy, too. But when they did this, the data points that they had was about 1,400 feet per minute below 40 knots, which means that the MV22 was almost twice as capable as a regular helicopter. But this vortex range state or power settling is something that you don't practice or you don't get into. It is just like a flat spin in a fixed-wing airplane. You don't get into it, because if you are in a flat spin, then you are most likely going to crash so that you don't do it.
Is it a problem? I will sign up 100 percent, as Admiral Dyer knows, for a warning system in the cockpit, but once you exceed the speed limit on something, once you exceed the rate of descent on something, then you are probably going to crash.
Mr. SHERWOOD. I am not an aviator, and I don't want to get in more technical discussion than I can understand, but do our manuals now reflect for the pilots what to expect?
General MCCORKLE. They did before, sir, but a lot of people say this was a cut-and-paste. I don't know, I wasn't there. Since then we have added two additional warnings into the Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS) manual for the MV22, warnings that I never saw in the 46 manual or the additional manuals, or the Huey or Cobra or whatever, but we have them in there. We do specific briefings in our big heavy planes, CH46, 53 Echo, MV22. If you are coming in at a high rate of descent through 1,000 feet, then the aircraft is going to be very difficult to stop.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I might add on this vortex ring state for a rate of descent, and what I think about the MV22I have only flown the simulator and flown the MV22 onceand I am like the staff sergeant, when I got in and I took off, I knew I was in a different world. This airplane has so much power that I think sometimes that it deceives or did deceive the people that flew it. I don't think it does anymore because of the accidents that we have had, but when we lost the airplane and lost my friends out at Marana, the lead airplane, the lead MV22, touched down at 970 feet per minute. My CH46, sir, breaks in two at 480 per minute. So this MV22, the lead MV22, touched down at twice the rate of descent that my 46 breaks into and is destroyed, and yetand I think that this is a true statementwhen they interviewed the individuals, the young kids and the old, the pilots on the lead airplane, not one of them felt they had a hard landing in an amazing airplane.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Why, then, have we heard so much about it? I am not sure that I still understand where I am at.
General MCCORKLE. In Fred McCorkle's opinion, sir, is there is an individual out there that crashed an airplane into the ocean a long time ago that thinks he is an expert on vortex ring state; and he goes and briefs everybody that he can brief on vortex ring state to tell them what a tough thing it is if you get into it in the airplane. And I would end it at that. As far as we know right nowand there has been a hell of a lot of testing on it, like I said, more so in my opinion, when people say to you, are you mad at NAVAIR because they didn't do all the testing for vortex ring state? I think Admiral Dyer and the individuals before him did more testing on rate of descent on the MV22 than we have ever done for all our helicopters put together.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SHERWOOD. Admiral Dyer.
Admiral DYER. A vortex ring state is a complicated subject full of vector drawings, and I will spare you, sir, if you will allow me.
Let me tell you that there is some good news with regard to tiltrotor technology vis-a-vis the helicopters that Fred addressed in terms of vortex ring state in that we have a new degree of freedom in this airplane. Vortex ring state is a phenomenon of a vertically settling rotor. This airplane gives us the ability to bring those nacelles forward toward airplane mode and to very, very quickly break out of and remove ourselves from vortex ring state. So this very technology lends itself to recovery much better than helicopters where you need air speed and altitude to recover.
The way we addressed vortex range state when the airplane was put out for OPEVAL was to establish a limit of no more than 800-feet-per-minute rate of descent when less than 40 knots. So it was an exclusion area, don't go there.
A question, a fair question, is so will the V22 have sufficient envelope for the Air Force mission as well as for the Navy mission to be able to operate as planned without vortex ring state being a demonstrable and significant safety risk? We believe the answer to that is yes.
A very, very detailed test program has been conducted and will be under way when we return to flight test at Patuxent River. We are about 30 to 50 percent of the way through now. We have seen a half dozen or so departures of vortex ring state, but every one of them at rates of descent greater than 2,000 feet per minute. Now, that is a lot. So above that we think we are going to have an envelope that is significantly larger than that that was put out to the fleet at OPEVAL.
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As we mentioned before, we are going to have our simulators with the fidelity necessary to train, but I will tell you, Congressman, that if I could roll the clock back, you know, if I could have saved the lives of 19 Marines, I would have laid down in front of this airplane. If we could roll the clock back getting those warning systems that General McCorkle spoke of, that would provide the distractive or the overloaded aviator of the warning of unintended excursion outside the allowable envelope, that is the one thing I would go after more than anything else.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Thank you very much.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Congressman Sherwood, Congressman Schrock, Congressman Andrews.
Well, gentlemen, we want to thank you for an outstanding series of interrogatories. We will ask you to respond to questions.
To our sergeant and to our major, we thank you both for being here. You did a fantastic job, very candid. To my colleagues, we thank you for being here. You know you are in Philadelphia, so as a symbol of your trip to the City of Brotherly Love, we want you to receive this symbol of our city, and which they keep ringing, because every time you ring it, ask for more defense help. We have one for each Member and for each of our witnesses, including our former panel, our two witnesses in the prior panel as well, for a symbol of thanks for coming to Philadelphia and shedding some light on this very important readiness issue. For the Members on the podium, we have a small symbol of a V22. I am sure they don't need it out here, but for each of you so that you can think about the implications of the questions that we asked in this program.
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Thank you all for coming here, and thank the staff for arranging this hearing. I want to thank the Port Authority for their cooperation in providing this public facility for us to hold this hearing in.
I want to thank our redcoats. They are no longer here, but our members of the Marine Corps link, our other veterans who came out. I want to thank particularlyand one of the other reasons Philadelphia is so important to vertical aircraft is because Frank Piasecki built the first helicopter, which became the Boeing Vertal and Boeing Company. His son John is over here.
John, send a note of thanks to your dad, Frank. We are still doing research on helicopter technology right down the river. We appreciate you being here as well.
We have a typical Philadelphia-style luncheon for the witnesses, prior panel, and for the Members, c-steaks, hoagies, soft pretzels, Tasty Cakes. I don't think we have got any beer because this is a Congressional hearing. I would ask our union leadership to join us. John, you want to bring back some of your friends, and thank all of you for coming out today. The hearing now stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 1:30 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
May 21, 2001
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[The Appendix is pending.]