Sneak Attack Reveals Why Bureaucrats Love Anonymity

March 5, 2001

Comment: #407

Discussion Thread - Comment #s - 401, 405 & 406

Attached References:

[1] Christian Lowe, "Military Testing Falling Short, Pentagon Panel Says," Defense Week, February 26, 2001.

[2] "Amos', McCorkle's E-mails about Osprey," Marine Corps Times,12 February

[3] Transcript of V-22 Press Conference [Nov 30]

[4] Mary Pat Flaherty and Thomas E. Ricks, "Osprey Probe Reaches Pentagon's Top Ranks," Washington Post, March 2, 2001, Pg. 1 Excerpts attached.

In the last week, I received the several emails from different Marine officers. Each contained the same anonymous document. It purports to be a rebuttal to the Op-Ed on the V-22 that Admiral Shanahan and I published in the Washington Post Outlook on February 11, 2001 (which I distributed as Comment #405).

Most of these Marines told me the anonymous rebuttal was floating all over Washington. One said it was prepared by members of the Marine Corps V-22 Program Office. Another Marine confirmed this and told me it was being distributed to Capital Hill through up a variety of lobbying groups (like the Marine Corps Reserve Officer's Association) by the Marine Legislative Affairs Office in the Pentagon.

No doubt, many of the addressees on this list will have already seen the document in question.

I want to stress, however, that I have no direct knowledge of its source.

The weird origin of this document raises a natural question: Why would "defenders of the faith" make such an effort, yet hide their authorship behind a veil of anonymity?

Perhaps an examination of the rebuttal itself will yield an answer to this question.

The format of this comment is as follows:

All introductory verbiage in plain type is that of anonymous authors. Verbiage in italics are also produced by the anonymous authors but are selected verbatim extractions from the Spinney/Shanahan op-ed (see Comment #405). Verbiage in regular text beginning with "Response:" are also those produced by the anonymous authors. Finally, verbiage highlighted as "[Spinney's comment: ...]" are critiques of the anonymous "rebuttal" responses entered by me at the appropriate places.

Begin Anonymous Rebuttal

V-22 Rebuttal Document

The V-22 has been under fire from a number of corners. The below and attached article will help to clear the air concerning this needed acquisition. Please pass this along as far and wide as possible. Thank you.

"Great Idea! Buy First, Then Find Out If It Flies" Rebuttal

Franklin C. Spinney and John J. Shanahan's op-ed piece in the February 11th Washington Post Outlook magazine characterizes the V-22 as an example of a misguided Pentagon "buy before fly" acquisition approach. The authors describe a "government - industry - congressional complex" which practices "concurrent engineering and manufacturing development" through a process of "political engineering". In addition, they impugn the integrity of senior Marine officers accusing them of putting the interests of the contractor ahead of the interests of the Corps by selling out their fellow Marines to ensure that the V-22 would be approved for full rate production. While the authors have a right to voice their opinions, their characterizations are inaccurate, misleading and, in some cases, betray a stunning ignorance of weapons systems acquisition.

Let's set the record straight.

The authors' opinions are in italics followed by a point-by-point rebuttal. At the heart of the authors' indictment is their characterization of concurrent engineering and manufacturing development as politically motivated. They say: Imagine buying a car before it was road-tested. You wouldn't do it, would you? Yet the Pentagon routinely does the equivalent in ordering up new weapons systems and military hardware. Against all common sense, it takes a misguided "buy before you fly" approach that not only makes large parts of the defense budget spin out of control, but also leads to dangerous defects in weapons and machinery.

Response: This sweeping generalization shows the authors' utter lack of comprehension of the acquisition reforms that have revolutionized military weapons system procurement in the last ten years. Far from the "buy before you fly" approach characterized by the authors, the current DOD 5000.2 acquisition process ensures that a weapon system can be designed, developed, qualified, produced and fielded to meet an operational requirement in a most cost effective manner. The expansive and detailed flight, systems and procedures testing that begins with Contractor Testing, moves to Developmental Testing, then Operational Testing, and culminates with an Operational Evaluation, is arguably the most thorough process a weapon system - in this case an aircraft - can go through. All of this is done before the aircraft gets to the fleet. How the authors' can draw such a conclusion espoused in this piece is at best counterintuitive.

[Spinney's Comment: Regarding the extent to which acquisition reforms have revolutionized weapons procurement, the anonymous authors of this response apparently did not read or do not believe the findings of the Defense Department's own Defense Science Board, or DSB. Reference 1 below is a description of some of the findings contained in the recently released "Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Test and Evaluation Capabilities," December 2000.

The DSB report can be obtained by calling the Defense Science Board's executive office in the Pentagon. With respect to the quality of testing, the DSB included the following general conclusions on page 20, among others: (1) "Testing is not being conducted adequately." (2) "A particularly shocking finding is that there is growing evidence that the acquisition system is not meeting expectations as far as delivering high quality, reliable and effective equipment to our military forces." (3) "There is an increasing incidence of test waivers." (4) "There is not enough government oversight of testing done by industry." ]

The buy before you fly approach allows defense contractors to build a political safety net for their work quickly by spreading jobs and subcontracts to congressional districts throughout the United States. In the case of the Osprey, this has so far meant 15,000 jobs in 43 states, with the potential to go to 23,000 at full-rate production.

Response: * Go to the best value suppliers wherever they are * Complex weapon systems need the best value solutions.

[ Spinney's Comment: Rhetorical blather, does not even address the point it claims to rebut.]

This is in stark contrast to commercial practices. Private firms do not risk their own money by investing in production lines before a cutting-edge technology is designed. They minimize risks by designing, testing and redesigning prototypes until a functional design is found. This works out the bugs before greater resources are committed to production. Such a sequential development strategy reduces economic and technical risks by making it easier to cancel a design effort if it proves unworkable.

Response: The authors' view is a bureaucrat's view of the world, but not the real world. Commercial enterprises routinely invest in cutting edge technology. This is the entire purpose of Internal Research and Development (IR&D). Part of their risk reduction is to ensure the technology can be transitioned to production. To accomplish this, commercial enterprises have moved toward integrated product teams (IPTs) to design, develop, test, and manufacture their products. The V-22 was designed, developed, and tested using Integrated Product Teams similar to the way Boeing commercially developed the 777. Commercial development, especially in the fields of software and microchip technology, requires concurrent engineering to keep pace in that rapidly developing industry. This concurrent development helps mitigate functional obsolescence.

[Spinney's Comment: Integrated product teams as developed by the Japanese auto manufacturers combine the efforts of different producers and suppliers to efficiently bring products to market. But it is important to remember that the success of these commercial products is mediated by the arms-length decisions of consumers in a competitive market. Consumers of the Boeing 777, for example, are the airline passengers who decide whether they will fly in these planes. In this case, integrated product teams may include representatives from the airlines who purchase the 777s, but they do not include the consumers who determine the ultimate commercial success of the product.

Now consider the situation in the case of purchasing weapons by the Defense Department. The Pentagon is the sole consumer who determines the commercial success of a product. Moreover, the Pentagon is a monopsonistic consumer who spends other people's money (i.e., that of the taxpayers) in a non-market exchange. Forming an integrated product team that includes contractors and members of the Defense Department in these circumstances is a policy that establishes a closely-coupled decision-making interaction between the buyer (who has fiduciary responsibility for and authority to spend other people's money) and the seller.

Now it is well established in law that a legal fiduciary authority requires an arms-length economic relationship to prevent the rise of collusive behavior between the buyer (i.e., the trustee responsible for spending other people's money) and the seller. The Marine "close-hold" emails discussed below show how this kind of behavior is evolves among contractors and defense officials. In this case, the contractors were included on the address list, but the Marines excluded the Assistant Secretary of the Navy who was responsible for approving the Milestone III production decision. Yet the emails were written out of concern that "bad news" might adversely affect that decision.

The anonymous authors of this rebuttal are trying to defend this cozy relationship by concocting a bogus analogy to the Boeing 777 IPTs. They are the ones with the bureaucrat's view of the world - and because bureaucrats thrive on anonymity, it should not be surprising that they have refused or are afraid to make their identities known.]

The Osprey test report issued in November revealed a host of problems with the craft. The Marines granted 19 waivers to required tests because known deficiencies could not be corrected in time. The tests also identified two extremely dangerous aerodynamic defects -- the craft does not have the ability to autorotate, or use its rotors to glide without power; and, under certain conditions, one or the other of its rotors may stall, leading to a sudden loss of control.

Response: The 19 waivers that the authors refer to were known deficiencies that were identified prior to going into Operation Evaluation (OPEVAL). This is a requirement for Operational Test Readiness Review. This number was considerably lower than the F/A-18 E/F, and as a matter of fact, the V-22 went into OPEVAL with the lowest number of waivers in the history of Naval Aviation. The report stated that if pilots operate the MV-22 inside the known, published flight envelope they would have no difficulties. The OPEVAL Report also does not even mention autorotations. However, to set the record straight, the autorotation issue is a common misconception with this aircraft. The V-22 is NOT a helicopter. It does not autorotate like a helicopter. It does, however, have approved emergency procedures that will allow the aircrew to safely land the aircraft when necessary. One of those procedures requires an autorotative-like state that requires a landing with higher rates of descent than a helicopter (initially), and a faster landing speed than a light, single engine helicopter might expect. The V-22 pilot is trained to set up for airplane mode flight and possible airplane mode glide rather than accept a potential for autorotation. But, should a V-22 ever need to autorotate, procedures are provided and the aircraft's many crashworthiness features will come into play to maximize potential for occupant survivability at landing. These features include crash load attenuation in the stroking pilot, crew and passenger seats; self-sealing fuel cells and fuel lines with self-sealing breakaway valves; crash energy absorbing landing gear; and wing structure that will break away from the fuselage upon impact to reduce potential to collapse or otherwise threaten the cabin. Once again, this would be a Tilt Rotor autorotation - not a helicopter autorotation.

[ Spinney's Comment: The anonymous authors say the OPEVAL REPORT does not even mention autorotations. This is factually incorrect. On page ES-19 of the OPEVAL report issued by the Director of Operation Testing and Evaluation, one will read that the V-22 is "Not capable of performing autorotation (CNO-waiver for OPEVAL)."

Note that the anonymous authors claim the V-22 is not a helicopter, but that pilots are trained to set up for "airplane mode glide." This rather confusing phraseology seems to imply it can glide like an airplane. Most people would not think of the Boeing 707 as being a good glider, and it has a glide ratio of 15, a glide slope of 3 degrees, and a rate of descent of 1,200 feet per minute. The V-22 in the airplane mode, on the other hand, has a glide ratio of 4.6, a glide slope of 12 degrees, and a rate of descent of about 3,500 feet per minute - so relative to a 707, it glides like a brick and is therefore is not a very good airplane either.]

The Osprey has been problematic from the outset. It first went into concurrent development in 1986. Three years later, then-Defense Secretary Richard Cheney tried to cancel the program, in part because of its high cost, but Congress balked. Over the next four years, Cheney waged a losing battle against a coalition of the Marine Corps; the Osprey's contractors, Boeing Co. and Bell Helicopter Textron Inc.; a nationwide collection of subcontractors; and an alliance of interested members of Congress, led by Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), whose district includes Boeing's helicopter division.

Response: The Osprey did not "first go into concurrent development in 1986" as the authors' state. At that time the V-22 Program was in Full Scale Development (FSD) under the then current DOD 5000.1 acquisition regulations. FSD followed a two year Preliminary Design Phase that began in 1983 and was to be followed by Full Rate Production in 1989, when then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney cancelled the production program to meet DoD budget constraints. Secretary Cheney repeatedly has stated that he never questioned the capabilities of the aircraft or the need - just the cost, at a time when Defense budgets were declining. A nationwide alliance, led by Congress, the Marine and USSOCOM customers, the contractors and their subcontractors and many concerned citizens did prevail in an effort to keep the V-22 Program alive. The revival of the V-22 Osprey was a textbook example of democracy in action, not the murky political conspiracy the authors' rhetoric would have you believe.

[Spinney's Comment: The use of FSD is quibbling, FSD simply the old term for EMD; very little changed when the name was changed other than bureaucratic gobbledygook - but then, that kind of verbal minuet makes a difference to anonymous bureaucrats.]

In the case of the V-22, senior Marine officers have put the interests of the contractor ahead of the interests of the Corps. They sold out fellow Marines to ensure that the V-22 would be approved for full-rate production, even though the aircraft is dangerous to fly, has unresolved design problems, has been incompletely tested, and has failed to meet many of its repair and maintenance requirements.


Accusing the United States Marine Corps of this kind of betrayal is beneath contempt and not worthy of comment. Last Nov. 21, Marine Brig. Gen. James Amos e-mailed a "close hold" memo to Lt. Gen. Frederick McCorkle, stating his fear that a report of low mission capable rates of 26.7 percent for early November "isn't going to help" in regard to the upcoming production decision. Significantly, the only non-Marines on the address list for the memo were the president of Bell Textron and a vice president of Boeing. [see Ref 2] Then, on Dec. 1, during a news conference convened expressly to explain why the V-22 was ready for full-rate production, Amos claimed that its mission capable rate for the first 13 days of November had been 73.2 percent.

Response: This is another red herring, and BGen Amos has addressed this issue publicly and openly.

* In his Nov. 21 email to LtGen McCorkle, BGen Amos was alerting LtGen McCorkle to lower reliability figures generated by a new maintenance and readiness reporting system.

* VMMT-204 has been using two methods to compute Mission Capable (MC) and Fully Mission Capable (FMC) rates since the squadron was activated in July 2000.

* One, called the Aircraft Material Readiness Report, is the Marine Corps standard used by all training and operational squadrons. It is a manually compiled snapshot of readiness.

* The other is the new and much more stringent NALCOMIS (Optimized) -- (Naval Aviation Logistics Command Management Information System - Optimized). Only a few squadrons in the Naval Services are using this system.

* Each of these squadrons compiles data in both the standard and the new NALCOMIS (Optimized) methods. In each squadron, the NALCOMIS (Optimized) MC and FMC rates are significantly lower than the standard, which is still being used for unit reporting.

* The standard data is what BGen Amos used during his brief 30 Nov because it is the standard data used by Marine Aviation -- and all Navy squadrons. We stand by those numbers as an accurate portrayal of MC and FMC rates for that specific time period.

* In any squadron with a small number of aircraft, the MC and FMC rates can vary widely in the course of a single day. Each data set is a snapshot only of maintenance readiness on the day the data is collected. In the NALCOMIS (Optimized) system, those numbers are expected to average 20-30 percent lower than the standard.

[Spinney's Comment: This section of the rebuttal goes to the heart of the issue - the moral component.

The first point to note in this regard is that the authors of this rebuttal conveniently chose to include the following paragraph in our op-ed which elaborated on and explained why we were making the very point they claimed to be rebutting. In that paragraph, we said "The commander of the first Osprey squadron was taped ordering his maintenance crews to lie about the V-22's mission capable rates in the interests of obtaining approval for full-rate production. Last Nov. 21, Marine Brig. Gen. James Amos e-mailed a 'close hold' memo to Lt. Gen. Frederick McCorkle, stating his fear that a report of low mission capable rates of 26.7 percent for early November 'isn't going to help' in regard to the upcoming production decision. Significantly, the only non-Marines on the address list for the memo were the president of Bell Textron and a vice president of Boeing. Then, on Dec. 1, during a news conference convened expressly to explain why the V-22 was ready for full-rate production, Amos claimed that its mission capable rate for the first 13 days of November had been 73.2 percent."

The second point to note is the kind of "betrayal" the authors say is beneath contempt and not worthy of comment. The Defense Department's Inspector General (DoD/IG) does not appear to hold this view. According to the Washington Post (see Ref 4), the DoD/IG "has seized data from the computers of two Marine generals as an investigation into an alleged cover-up of problems with the V-22 Osprey aircraft reaches into the top ranks at the Pentagon."

Third, this anonymous rebuttal talks around but does not does not explain the issue raised by the Email #1 in Ref 2. Note that in Email #1 Gen Amos tells Gen McCorkle that the V-22 had an MC rate of 26.7% for the month of November. He also says that the introduction of NALCOMIS reduces the rate by 20% to 30%. Give him the benefit of the doubt on this assumption, and increase the MC rate by the higher end of the estimate, and one is left with an MC rate of 56.7%. But in the November 30 press conference (see Ref 3 below), Gen Amos clearly states that the V-22's MC rate for the first thirteen days of November was 73.2%. Nothing in the convoluted explanation produced by the anonymous authors clears up the discrepancy between 56.7% and 73.2%.

Fourth, nor do these unknown authors explain or rebut the collusive nature revealed in the three emails published by the Marine Corps Times on 12 February (these are repeated verbatim in Reference 2 below). For example, the authors of this rebuttal do not address the issue we raised about contractors being included as addressees on all the emails, a point that we raised in our op-ed.

Note that the subject of these emails is bad news that could adversely affect the upcoming decision to place the V-22 into full-rate production. At the time of these emails, the production decision had been delegated by Defense Secretary Cohen to Lee Buchanan, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition, a civilian appointee of the Clinton Administration. In theory, the Navy Secretariat is a civilian organization that is supposed to oversee the activities of the Navy and the Marine Corps.

In Email #1, BG Amos says clearly that the bad news "needs to be close-held," which is Pentagon-speak for 'do not show this information or subsequent related exchanges (e.g., Emails #2 & #3) to anyone not on the address list.'

Given this kind of injunction, the contents of the address lists of the emails in Reference 2 become important to distinguishing insiders from outsiders. As would be expected, the addressees include a bevy of marine officers associated in one way or another with the V-22 program. But the man responsible for making that decision, Lee Buchanan, the man with the greatest 'need to know,' was excluded from the address list.

On the other hand, the address lists also included two civilian addressees: John Murphey and Patrick J Finneran Jr. Who are these civilians? It turns our that Murphey is the President of Bell Helicopter Textron and Finneran is the Vice President of Boeing for Navy and Marine Programs

So, while senior Marines deemed it appropriate to include the prime contractors of the V-22 in the circle of light, the senior Navy official responsible for making the production decision in question, Lee Buchanan, was placed in the darkness by the "close-hold" injunction.

This impression of collusive behavior is reinforced further by wording in Email #3 about the decision to use NALCOMIS data (see Ref 2 below). Gen Amos tells Gen McCorkle, "Sir...not sure who made that decision but don't believe that anyone on our side of the fence got a vote in it ... likely an AIRLANT decision." The reference to "our side of the fence" clearly includes the contractors and the reference to "AIRLANT" (Naval air forces Atlantic) implies the Navy is on the other side of the fence.

For obvious reasons, the anonymous authors of this selective rebuttal are silent on these nuances.]

The decision to put the V-22 into full production is now on indefinite hold, but the flawed policy of "buy before you fly" remains intact. In fact, the Air Force is now pushing Rumsfeld to approve low-rate production of the F-22 fighter. But after spending almost $20 billion, five Lockheed Martin F-22 fighter aircraft have flown fewer than 390 times for a total of about 860 hours. (Most aircraft have thousands of hours of flight-testing before going into production.) The F-22's design, especially its integrated avionics system, is still in a state of flux, yet the Air Force and contractor Lockheed Martin insist it is ready for low-rate production.

Response: The MV-22 has accumulated over 5000 flight hours, with almost 4000 occurring in Full Scale Development Testing or in Engineering Manufacturing and Development (EMD) -- which makes it hardly a "buy before you fly" program. It is interesting that the authors criticize the F-22 for accumulating only 860 flight hours parenthetically stating that "most aircraft have thousands of hours of flight testing before going into production" while never addressing the number of flight hours flown by the V-22.

[ Spinney's Comment: The fact that the V-22 has accumulated many more hours than the F-22 is not a point in the V-22's favor, given the large number problems that remain unresolved. In fact, some engineers might view this fact as a liability.]

The V-22 and the F-22 are just two examples of the kind of political engineering that contributes to the explosive growth of the Pentagon budget. It's time to introduce common business sense and integrity to the weapons engineering process. If the new administration is serious about bringing costs under control while fielding weapons and equipment that work, defense officials can begin by instituting an independent "fly before you buy" strategy. They can put testing in the hands of a neutral agency headed by a director appointed for a fixed term and insulated from the politics that have for too long led to a needless waste of money and an excessive risk to the lives of our men and women in uniform.

Response: DoD already has an independent, neutral testing establishment. It's called the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) - beholding to no Service Chief, contractor or combatant command.

[Spinney's Comment: The DOT&E is an political appointee reporting to the Secretary of Defense (and Congress), to be precise, and therefore is not insulated from politics. This is why we called for a fixed term appointment that is insulated from politics.]

End Unsigned Marine Corps Rebuttal

Returning to the question on anonymity, would you allow your name to be on record supporting this kind of defense?

Chuck Spinney

[Disclaimer: In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.]

Reference #1

[This article refers to Report of the Defense Board Task Force on Test and Evaluation Capabilities, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology, December 2000.]

Defense Week February 26, 2001

Military Testing Falling Short, Pentagon Panel Says

By Christian Lowe [Reprinted with Permission]

The brass's tendency to waive key criteria in operational tests is "seriously undermining" the military's ability to field quality weapons, the Pentagon's senior scientific advisors said in a new report to Congress.

A panel of the Defense Science Board, or DSB, to which the Pentagon turns for expert advice, says the Navy's policy of granting waivers adversely affects several of its major weapons programs, including its newest, high-profile fighter, the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. The Chief of Naval Operations deleted 49 test items for the Super Hornet-23 of which were considered relevant to evaluating the aircraft's performance. Despite the unproven capabilities, the Super Hornet is already being produced, and the Navy plans to buy 546 for $47 billion.

The report also reiterated criticism, by the GAO and others, of inadequate testing on the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. Moreover, the DSB said, the military lacks "threat representative" targets against which to test its new air-defense and missile-defense systems and its countermine capabilities.

The report, which has not been released publicly, is the latest voice criticizing what has been dubbed a "buy before you fly" approach to acquisition. Because the DSB is friendly to the Pentagon and staffed by technical experts, its voice arguably carries more weight than recent, similar findings from outside groups, some of which are generally critical of military spending.

The GAO has cited the Army's RAH-66 Comanche scout helicopter, the Navy's AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon-many of which missed their mark in the Feb. 23 strike in Iraq-and the Super Hornet as examples of weapons that were bought before testing was complete or without looking at other alternatives.


Concerning waivers, the DSB report said: "This [waiver] process appears to contravene the statutory requirement to report on the effectiveness and suitability of the system actually tested [emphasis in original]. ... A particularly shocking finding is that there is growing evidence that the acquisition system is not meeting expectations as far as delivering high quality, reliable and effective equipment to our military forces."

On the Marine Corps MV-22, the DSB said key requirements outlined at the beginning of the program were deleted from testing. The hybrid tiltrotor aircraft wasn't required to undergo air combat maneuvers; it was not cleared for operations in icing conditions; it had no ground collision and avoidence system; and couldn't do night operations with external loads because of problems with the altimeter-all required operations for the MV-22s in the fleet.

Increasingly, questions are arising about whether or not more MV-22 testing could have helped predict and deal with a phenomenon called vortex ring state that killed 19 in an April crash. The Navy has consistently defended the testing of both the Super Hornet and the MV-22 aircraft. In the case of the Super Hornet, for example, the Navy says the items waived will be fixed later.

Waiver items

On the Super Hornet, the report said the Navy deleted almost two dozen tests from the aircraft's operational evaluation, or OPEVAL, several of which "were waived because they had demonstrated poor reliability during [developmental testing and evaluation] and were planned to be modified or replaced in future production."

Numerous items were waived in the areas of stores, cockpit integration, targeting forward looking infrared performance, radar performance, capabilities in carrier operations, radio mechanization and more.

"As a consequence of the CNO [Chief of Naval Operations] waiver, failures associated with such waived items and associated repair times were removed from the database used by [Navy testers] in its evaluation of the key suitability requirements- reliability, maintainability and availability," the report said. "Several of the waived items caused numerous failures and required large amounts of time for inspections and/ or repairs during OPEVAL."

The DSB report suggests changing the waiver process so that no single service authority, like the CNO, can simply delete test items from a program. The GAO, in a report on Pentagon management challenges released in January, said the Defense Department continues to buy weapons systems that may not have been tested enough and could end up reaching troops in the field with glitches that can't be fixed.

"Pervasive problems persist regarding the process to acquire weapons, ..." the report said. "[Including] the use of high-risk acquisition strategies such as acquiring weapons based on optimistic assumptions about maturity and availability of enabling technologies."


A top military priority is to make systems from different services more able to "talk" to one another. This so-called interoperability is key to the evolution of joint warfare, a current priority of Pentagon planners. A Navy commando, for instance, may have to use his radio to get data from an Air Force Joint STARS aircraft and call in an air strike to an aircraft carrier off-shore using the same terminal. This requires an Air Force system to be able to interface with a Navy system.

But the way these products are now being developed, interoperability may be left by the wayside, if the DSB report is ny indication.

"Our system acquisition and testing process is still primarily a single service responsibility," it said. "There is growing evidence that interoperability determination is not a key parameter of testing adequacy, even though the requirements [of the Pentagon's joint warfare plan] clearly make greater demands on system interoperation."

The report also said facilities for conducting interoperability tests were inadequate. There's only one facility so far, the Joint Interoperability Test Command, that can do this kind of testing, it said, but it doesn't do enough.

"The JTIC is a start," said the report. "[But] it is specialized in information systems. ... There is no facility capable of doing inter-service interoperability testing of weapons systems and of the interaction between weapons systems and information systems."

Reference #2

[Spinney's Introductory Comment: The following Marine Corps Times article lays out the email exchanges between BG AMOS and LTG McCorkle. Note that each email contains the addresses of John Murphey and Patrick Finneran (marked in bold). For the record, Finneran is vice president and general manager of Navy and Marine Corps programs for The Boeing Co., and Murphey is president of Bell Helicopter Textron. These emails are also significant in terms of who is not on the address list, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition]

Marine Corps Times, 12 February

Amos', McCorkle's E-mails about Osprey

-------------[Email #1]------------------------

From: Amos BGen James F
Sent: Tuesday, November 21, 2000 6:40 AM
To: McCorkle LtGen Frederick Cc: Krupp MajGen Dennis T, John Murphey (Exec Ofc BHTI) (E-mail); Patrick J Finneran-Jr (E-mail); Moore BGen Thomas L Jr, SCHMIDT COL NOLAN D (E-mail); Schwartz Col Raymond E; Wederbrook Col Earl; Flock Col James F
Subject: V22 MC/FMC NUMBERS!!!
Importance: High

Sir...this needs to be close-held. Spoke to Tango at the end of the day yesterday and here are the numbers that 204 is running for MC and FMC rates for the month of November...remember that their Maint Dept is on the "Improved NALCOMIS" which you can't cheat on. I am told that you can expect about a 20-30% drop in MC and FMC rates as a result of the I-NALCOMIS. That said ... this is still a bad story.

Had hoped to be able to use some recent numbers next month when you meet with Dr Buchanan for his Milestone III/FRP decision in December ... this isn't going to help. MC - 26.7% FMC - 7.9%

Very respectfully & Semper Fidelis

-------------[Email #2]------------------------

From: McCorkle LtGen Frederick
Sent: Tuesday, November 21, 2000 6:46 AM
To: Amos BGen James F; Diaz Col Gilbert B Cc: Krupp MajGen Dennis T, 'John Murphey (Exec Ofc BHTI) (E-mail)'; 'Patrick J Finneran-Jr (E-mail)'; Moore BGen Thomas L Jr, 'SCHMIDT COL NOLAN D (E-mail)'; Schwartz Col Raymond E; Wederbrook Col Earl; Flock Col James F
Subject: RE: V22 MC/FMC NUMBERS!!!



-------------[Email #3]------------------------

From: Amos BGen James F
Sent: Tuesday, November 21, 2000 6:47 AM
To: McCorkle LtGen Frederick, Diaz Col Gilbert B Cc: Krupp MajGen Dennis T; 'John Murphey (Exec Ofc BHTI) (E-mail)'; 'Patrick J Finneran-Jr (E-mail)'; Moore BGen Thomas L Jr; SCHMIDT COL NOLAN D (E-mail)'; Schwartz Col Raymond E; Wederbrook Col Earl; Flock Col James F
Subject: RE: V22 MC/FMC NUMBERS!!!

Sir...not sure who made that decision but don't believe that anyone on our side of the fence got a vote in it ... likely an AIRLANT decision.

Very respectfully Tamer

Reference #3

Transcript of V-22 Press Conference [Nov 30]

Q: Ken, regarding a somewhat critical Coyle report on the MV- 22, does the SECDEF believe that the tilt rotor plane is ready for full-scale production and use by the Marine Corps in any situation?

Bacon: Well, first of all, the Coyle report believes that the MV-22 is ready for production. And it says that. So I don't believe the secretary has been briefed on the Coyle report. I know that Mr. Coyle himself has not briefed him. I do also know that the commandant has kept the secretary fully informed about progress on the V-22 Osprey. As you recall, several years ago the secretary went down and saw the Osprey when it landed here next to the Pentagon and went aboard the Osprey with the commandant and some member of Congress. It's a program in which he's been very interested. And he shares the commandant's view that this is an exciting and important new development in Marine aviation and a very worthy successor to the CH- 46 helicopter.

Q: I've got another one on a different subject.

Bacon: Sure.

Q: Does anyone want --

Q: Yeah, just to follow up on the V-22. The Coyle report said that it found that it was -- that the MV-22 as tested was, quote, "not operationally suitable because of reliability, maintainability, availability, human factors, and interoperability issues." That doesn't sound like a good thing. Can you explain why it's considered to be operationally effective but not operationally suitable? What are they talking about? Is this a maintenance -- is there a problem with the plane? Was there a maintenance problem or what -- what are we talking about here?

Bacon: Well, first I have Brigadier General Amos from the Marine Corps here who will answer specific questions. But let me just say, based on my cursory review of the two-inch thick report -- I know you've probably read it all, but I haven't -- and a brief conversation with Mr. Coyle and a conversation with the commandant, General Jones, about this, my assessment of this is as follows: that the development of a new airplane is an evolutionary process. You never reach a point where you've achieved perfection with the plane. You are always looking for ways to improve its performance, its maintainability, its reliability, and its safety. And that with any piece of technology, particularly a dramatically new departure from past technology and its introduction into the force, there's a learning curve. And that that learning curve continues throughout the life of the airplane.

I think that that's what's happened here. The Marines have already made a number of improvements. I think they've made over a hundred improvements -- nearly a 120 improvements in the plane since they first started producing it. Those improvements will continue. The new improvements will be made on top of the 120-odd improvements that have been made already.

As Marines who maintain the planes learn more about maintaining them, the maintenance will get better. And one of the reasons that we have Phil Coyle at the Pentagon -- one of the reasons that we have an independent Office of Test and Evaluation is in order to give the services guidance and direction for how to make their equipment better and to make it more reliable and more effective in combat. And I think that the Marines will take the Coyle report and use it as a guidebook for making improvements in the Osprey.

Now, that's a general -- a very general description. I can go into some very specific changes that the Marines have already made, but I think I will leave that to Brigadier General Amos to do that right now. And then, if you have more general policy questions, I'll come back.

Q: A general policy DoD question. The report, which I read several times -- two inches -- leaves the impression that the O&S [operation and support] costs for this thing in the out years, the years beyond after you and the other Marines leave, is going to be pretty high, more of a burden than the Marines anticipate now. This building, for the last seven or eight years, has talked about how weapons programs must be both effective and cost effective in the out years to be purchased or to be approved. This report raises reasonable doubt that this airplane has O&S costs that may be astronomical right now that the Marines won't be able to pay.

Can you address, I mean, the dichotomy here? OSD says one thing. This report applies quite another.

Bacon: Well, I know what the report says, and I know the report makes comparisons between the V-22 and the CH-46 helicopter. To a certain extent, these comparisons overlook, I think, one central fact, which is the CH-46 helicopters cannot remain flying forever and they have to be replaced by something. As the report points out, the V-22 Osprey brings considerably greater combat capability to the Marine Corps than it's currently getting from the CH-46 helicopters, which have been in the force since 1964, I believe.

So they have to replace the helicopters with something. They've chosen a new technology. The report points out that the new technology does bring additional combat capability, and in some respects, in terms of combat survivability, it even exceeds the standards that were initially set for the V-22.

In terms of the cost of making the plane operate, the cost of keeping the plane operating, it does conclude that they could be lower. And the Marines are confident that the costs will be lower, and that they will get lower as they begin to get this into the force and they begin working on the plane. And as they make more changes in the plane, as they've made already -- they've made -- one of the fundamental changes they've made is fixing difficulties they had in folding and stowing the wings.

That's a change they've made already. They've made another change in the instruction manuals for educating people in how to maintain the plane. They've made another fundamental change in fasteners -- sounds simple, but it was a problem the plane was having attaching cables and other things to the composite material. They've improved that dramatically. As I said, they've made nearly 120 improvements already. They will continue to make more improvements.

The question to be asked is whether the improvements will change this trajectory. The Marines are confident that it will. And I suppose the only way we're going to know this is to come back in a year or two or three, and look at the cost of maintaining the plane, of keeping it operational, and finding out if they have made the type of progress that they think they can make.

But let me have General Amos come up and discuss some of the specifics on that.

Amos: Maybe I can shed a little bit of light on things from a couple of different perspectives, both the operational and maybe the programmatic.

The first thing I'd like to say is, you've got to remember that there were two test and evaluation organizations that looked at this airplane as it went through both operational evaluation and came out the other end, with the appropriate report. The first was OPTEVFOR, Operational Test and Evaluation Force, based out of Norfolk, which did an independent -- they work for the chief of Naval Operations, but they did an independent analysis of this, of the airplane, and actually conducted the operational evaluation all the way till July the 15th. So they are manned by fleet experienced test pilots and maintenance personnel and people that come from the fleet and understand the development of aircraft. And they came on board and said the operational -- the airplane is operationally suitable. That was their finding.

And how did they do that? They flew the airplane, they worked with it. They're the ones that came up with the exact same numbers that Mr. Coyle's office used to develop his Beyond LRIP [low rate initial production] report. That's where he got his numbers.

But they, being operators and understanding how an airplane develops and matures from both a mechanical perspective, a supply support perspective, and an employment perspective, they understand where the airplane's going in the future. And they're very confident, and thus they said the airplane was operationally suitable.

Mr. Coyle's office, representing the civilian side of the evaluation, said that the airplane is operationally effective and there's no question about it. It flew farther than it was supposed to. It lifted more than it was supposed to.

It is a very, very capable airplane.

He took the Marine Corps to task on the issue of maintainability and reliability, and frankly, we're pleased that he did because when that airplane went through the operational evaluation, the early part, you should know that it entered OPEVAL [operational evaluation] with one airframe; the first production airplane. And then as the OPEVAL continued, we brought in three more airplanes.

So, during that period of time, let's just take a glimpse -- you know, a glimpse of the very first part of the operational evaluation -- if that airplane broke for any reason, there was no other airplane. I mean, there was nothing else to continue the operational evaluation on.

So as we went into this with a frankly, a less-than-mature supply support system, and we didn't have it, there was not a robust supply locker resident at New River and Patuxent River when we went through the operational evaluation. So we didn't try to preload this thing. So the airplane went through with a less-than-mature supply support system, and it began to show. And we had problems with some new technology.

Mr. Bacon talked about the fasteners. The airplane is predominantly carbon fiber. There are a variety of things -- cables, wires, wire bundles -- just like an airliner that you'd fly in commercially -- that have to be fastened in the airplane. This is very simplistic. But how do you take a fastener that's going to hold a wire bundle that weighs a hundred pounds and fasten it to a fiber -- a carbon fiber airframe that can withstand the vibrations and all the other things that you can imagine in a military airplane? It's done by glue. Well, there is a variety of different kinds of glue and we found out the hard way, as we began to look at fasteners on this airplane, what was wrong with the way we had the fasteners and the glue being applied.

That was a significant maintainability and reliability issue as we went through operational evaluation. We have corrected that problem right now. Mr. Bacon talked about 118 fixes that the program manager has already put in the airframe to fix issues that came up during the operational evaluation.

I don't think it's unrealistic to think that an airframe that's entering it's service -- and by the way, we have nine airplanes now; our first nine airplanes at New River and VMMT-204, which is our training squadron -- we've only got nine. And of those nine, the first four that entered the squadron were the ones who went through operation evaluation.

It's not unrealistic to think that you're going to have developmental changes to the airframe. The blade-fold wing-stow mechanism, which allows the blades to collapse into one unit and then causes the entire wing to turn 90 degrees so that we can fit this thing aboard a ship, just like the wings fold on an F-18 or an F-14, it's not unrealistic to think that they're going to have problems in something that is mechanically as tightly engineered as that is.

That's been fixed. Mr. Coyle himself flew out to the ship, at the very beginning of November, and witnessed that, and actually flew on an Osprey and then gave it a thumbs up.

So those are issues on maintainability and reliability mechanically for the airframe that needed to be fixed, and they have been fixed.

Now, have they all been fixed? I mean, are there other things that are out there? Sure there are. And again, it's not unrealistic to think that we're not going to mature the system. The program manager is dedicated to fixing all those things. Folks, it takes money, and we're working diligently on it right now to repair the airplane, or get the repair pieces of that airplane up so it's maintainable and reliable.

Let me throw a figure out to you. Those nine airplanes that I talked about out in 204 down in New River, I pulled -- as I was walking down here, I pulled the first 13 days of November, mission-capable rate on those airplanes, and the average is 73.2 percent for the first 13 days in November of those nine airplanes. So when we start talking about is the airplane, even since OPEVAL, improving and getting better, the answer is it is absolutely a resounding yes.

Yes, ma'am?

Q: A couple of questions. What was the mission-capable rate prior to this, so that we have some level of comparison. And how long -- could you explain to us the difference between operationally suitable and operationally effective?

Amos: Yes.

Q: And how long will it take until you are operationally suitable?

Amos: Okay. Let me go to your first question. If you didn't hear it, it was what was the mission-capable rate, and I assuming we'll talk about operation evaluation, since that's the criteria we're using, and that's the number of airplanes that are up. An airplane -- it was 57 percent mission capable during operation evaluation for that period of time that the airplane was examined. Now, that's lower than we want, but that's not lower than it is right now, and that's not lower than it's going to go in the future. But that gives you a frame of reference: 57 percent when it came through operation evaluation; it's 73 percent as of midway through November.

The second question was --

Q: The second question. What's the definitional difference between suitability and --

Amos: Okay, the operational suitability and operational effectiveness.

Effectiveness measures the airplane's ability to perform the specific missions and taskings that it was designed to do. For instance, it has to be able to lift greater than 10,000 pounds. It has to be able to fly unrefueled a specific distance. It has to be able to hover out of ground effect with a certain weight. Those are all the key performance parameters that we look at operationally. When the operational requirements document was signed on this airplane, those are all the thing that we looked at and said, okay, we want this airplane to do this out in the year 2020 and 2010 and 2015. And it was operationally effective and more than met all those.

Operationally suitable takes into account all the other things, maintainability, reliability. How is the airplane performing from the maintainability side of the house? Is it suitable? And it turns out to be kind of a net cost for the airplane. They don't attach a dollar amount, but it's what's the labor that's going to be required to keep this airplane flying.

Q: And is the V-22 high maintenance at this point?

Amos: Oh, I think the V-22 probably is high maintenance at this point. I think -- but make sure you understand one thing. Any new airframe at this point or any new system is going to be high maintenance. And why would that be? Because first of all, there is the real lack of experience in maintaining this. That airframe -- those Marines that worked on those MV-22s when we went through operational evaluation saw it for the very first time. We didn't have MV-22s out there. They didn't have the capability -- you know, it continues to be referred or balanced against the CH-46. The CH-46 has been flying for 32 years. Do you think we've got experience on maintaining the CH-46? We sure do. We know exactly what is required. So, yeah, it's --

Q: Will the V-22 always be high maintenance because it's --

Amos: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. And I guess that's probably where I have the rub with the implications of the Beyond LRIP report. You get the impression -- it's implied that this is high maintenance and it's going to continue to be that way. And I think that's absolutely unrealistic. It will improve, as it's already improved markedly, from 57 percent mission capable, which means high maintenance, to 73 percent, just for the first 13 days of this month. That means less than high maintenance.

Q: I'm sorry, sir. With that remarkable increase, did the Marine Corps go to any extraordinary measures? There have been times in the military's history when it's trying to prove a plane -- the B-1 springs to mind, where the Air Force has focused all of this efforts on boosting the RM&A on that. Did you do that with the V-22, or is this just a natural improvement?

Amos: No, I think this is a natural improvement being done by the program office -- absolutely. Everything we're doing right now is -- and it needs to be done. You know, let me assure you of one thing: the Marine Corps wants the airplane to be low maintenance and high reliability, and we're driving the program office to make that happen.

Q: The report also focuses on another possible -- potential problem with the V-22, and that is the susceptibility to vortex ring state, which was cited as a casual factor in the accident. Is there any indication that this aircraft is more susceptible to that aerodynamic phenomenon than any -- because of its unique technology? Is there a concern about whether this is less forgiving when it comes to that kind of a stall, because of the conditions under which it is flown?

Amos: No, there's absolutely -- there is no concern that the airplane is more unforgiving in that environment. Every helicopter has the potential to experience that. I just flew the CH- 46 last week, and in the briefing we talked about power settling, vortex ring state in the CH-46. So no, it's not any more susceptible. I will tell you that Lieutenant General McCorkle, who I think everybody in this room knows, who is a deputy commandant for Marine Aviation, has required NAVAIR [Naval Air Systems Command] to put a warning device in the cockpit that warns the pilot that he's approaching a regime that could be potentially -- where he could be potentially susceptible to a vortex ring state. But it's a phenomena for all helicopters.

Q: Have you adjusted the parameters or the limits under which the plane is supposed to be flown in order to lessen the chance of that happening again?

Amos: The Beyond LRIP report, specifically stated by the test pilots that said that flying the airplane outside the parameters that might possibly get you into a vortex ring state absolutely had nil effect on the operational capability of the airplane.

So my answer to that question is, is that we fly the airplane the way we need to fly it, and we just avoid that piece of the envelope. I'm a pilot by trade. Every -- I'm a Hornet pilot by trade. Even the F-18, as good as it is, has regions of the envelope that we're required to avoid. So it's not unlike any other airplane.

Q: Sir, in fairness, the report -- Coyle also says he didn't agree that it was nil. And he went on to explain that the plane -- even if the pilot varied from the NATOPS [Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization] rewrite, could inadvertently enter a state, the ring vortex danger zone, as he put it, causing problems. And he agreed with the Navy's and the Marine's approach to keep aggressively testing. But did he not lay out a valid caveat there, that inadvertently a pilot could get in there and not realize he or she was in that ring vortex state?

Amos: Well, I think that there's always the possibility, by virtue of the fact that it's a human being at the controls. Again, I go back to my own experience in the airplanes that I fly. I can always potentially fly them outside the envelope. And just like the F-18 has warning devices in it to remind me when I'm intensely preoccupied in the cockpit with mission, whatever, that tells me that, "Hey, you're nearing stall" or "you're nearing a high angle of attack in this airplane" -- exactly the same kind of concept with this airplane.

The interesting thing is that we have at Patuxent River, Maryland, in my mind, and certainly in the Navy and Marine Corps's mind, the finest aeronautical engineers and test pilots, I think, that are resident in America today. And resoundingly they came out in support of the fact that we've identified the airplane's parameters when it approaches a vortex ring state. We are confident that we can adjust -- not adjust; we're confident that we can identify those regions to the pilots, and just like any other airplane, we can avoid them.

So it -- you know, with -- the Beyond LRIP report speaks a lot about vortex ring state. I don't think it's a problem in this airplane, and nether does Patuxent River test pilots.

Q: Let me just ask you about one other part of -- aspect of that. That is, it was noted that in the V-22 you could have this phenomenon of power settling develop under one rotor but not the other --

Amos: Yes.

Q: -- causing the -- to pitch or yaw --

Amos: Yaw.

Q: -- which is what happened in the accident. Isn't that different from what you would experience in a helicopter, and doesn't in that some sense make this a little less forgiving, a little harder for the pilots to realize what's happening and recover from it?

Amos: It will not be harder for him to recover from it, because he'll never enter it as long as he flies the airplane within the parameters established by the testing program, which is exactly, again, like every other airplane that we have.

Q: Let me ask -- when we last saw General McCorkle on this topic a few months ago, and he was asked about warning devices -- and at that point he was -- he thought that was not a practical solution. He said, you know, you can't have a warning device going off for every damn thing the plane is doing, and you'd constantly be ignoring them. They'd be going off. And he just didn't think it was practical.

What has changed for him to now require that device? And has there been a technological fix or what?

Amos: That was several months ago, and what's taken place since then is, at General McCorkle's request, Patuxent River test pilots have continued -- and we're about 50 percent through the follow-on, what they call high rate of descent testing.

And so we've got test pilots, both in the air and in the simulators, continuing the high rate of descent testing to ensure that we absolutely capture the parameters of this phenomenon in this particular airframe.

And as a result of that testing, we've just -- he's come to the conclusion that, why not? We have a ground proximity warning system we put in the F-18. It's a software-induced -- there are lines of code in the software, and it gives you an oral warning that you are approaching the ground. We have it in that airplane, why not put it in this airplane? Why not put an oral warning in this airplane, or some type of warning device? It would be foolish to not do that. And that's the conclusion he's come to.

Q: It's based on just rate of descent?

Amos: It's based on rate of descent and forward velocity which is, by the way, exactly what was in the NATOPS manual before the mishap.

Q: Some people might read this --

Q: To use your own word, you have a "rub" with this report. I think that's the word that you used. Did the Marines get a chance to make their objections to the report known to Coyle before he put it out? It seems a bit unusual for you guys to be so publicly taking on an OSD report with so many public objections.

Amos: Actually, I don't think I used the term, "I have a rub with this report." Did I?

Q: You did, actually.

Amos: Yeah, I don't -- in fact I think I -- at the very beginning I talked about two evaluations; one primarily military operational test experience, and one civilian, which -- and we need both of them to give us the balanced perspective on it -- on entering a new airframe in there.

Q: Okay, I think you used the word "rub" in addressing the notion that the report didn't adequately talk about the fact that the maintenance costs would come down over time.

Amos: And I think -- okay, and I do think that it's unrealistic to think that the maintenance cost of this airplane is not going to come down over time.

The airplane entered our service -- entered our first squadron -- in July. I mean, this is November. I mean, it's -- and that's why I say I think it's unrealistic to think at this point, for this snapshot in time, that this airplane is not going to improve in maintainability and reliability when, in fact, it already has.

Q: But did the Marines get a chance to make their differences of opinion known before the report came out?

Amos: We talked all the way through. We have a very good communications setup between OPTEVFOR and the DOT&E [Director Operational Test and Evaluation] folks. And we've been talking all the way along -- absolutely.

Q: What of the --

Q: One more budget question: This would be an interesting intellectual discussion about a weapons system under early development if it wasn't for the fact that next Tuesday the Marines or the Navy are going to dictate possibly sending this into full-rate production, a potential $30 billion decision.

At the end of an administration and at the eve of an incoming one, why not keep this thing in low-rate production for another year while the bugs are worked out and you can give the public and the military a little bit more confidence that the plane is, in fact, improving?

Why the need for a Milestone 3 decision at this point in the program?

Amos: I'm probably not the guy to be able to answer that question, but I can give you a glimpse on what full-rate production right now means, just so you have a perspective. Full-rate production is we look over the planned budget over the FYDP [Future Years Defense Program] is 16 airplanes in fiscal year '02. That's not a lot of airplanes. You know, again, we've delivered nine airplanes this year. So that is -- full-rate production sounds like we're going to throw out 100 airplanes a year, and that's simply not the case. We're talking 16 airplanes in FY '02.

Q: You would agree, though, it's a symbolic major step in a program that normally is irreparable -- irrevocable -- excuse me -- can't be turned off. You don't go back from Milestone 3.

Amos: That's right.

Q: That's the goal of all the services, to get --

Amos: Absolutely.

Q: -- the thing to Milestone 3, basically to protect the investment in the program. And I'm just asking, what would be the problem of going a year delay in that, because you can't answer this -- you know --

Amos: Well, I tell you, I can only answer from my perspective, and that's the airplane, from my, and from Marine aviation's perspective, is operationally suitable and operationally -- it's a program that can be executed. It's a suitable airframe that will grow in maturity. And we're very comfortable with that. And because of that, I have no problems with the thing going in full-rate production. None whatsoever.

Q: The taxpayers might, or other -- you know, members of Congress who monitor OSD expenditures, and the building might -- the Marines, of course, wouldn't care. They want the thing go to Milestone 3. It's a fiscal responsibility issue, I would think.

Amos: Next question.

Q: A layman reading this report, maybe just reading the -- a cursory review of this report, and maybe remembering the accident in April might conclude that the V-22 is somehow a troubled program. What would you say to someone who had that impression?

Amos: I don't agree that the V-22 is a troubled program. I think the V-22 is a maturing program right now. And I think it's probably, realistically, where it should be in its maturity. And I'd like to be able to come back in a year from now and be able to answer that question because I think you would be very satisfied with the answer that I gave you a year from now.


Q: If this is a high-maintenance aircraft, is there a greater risk in flying it? And at what point do you use it to move troops around and that sort of thing?

Amos: We're using it -- we move troops around on it right now. It is --

Q: Is it safe --

Amos: I'm having just a little bit of trouble with the consistent reference to it's a high maintainability airplane. It is an airplane that is under -- that is being introduced to the fleet for the very first time. It is moving troops.

I was down at New River two weeks ago -- just to give you a vignette, a snapshot of what's going on at the squadron, there were six airplanes sitting on the flight line. Five of them were up; they were flying the airplanes consistently throughout the day. Only one of the airplanes out of five were down. There were two that were in the hangar for scheduled incorporation of airframes changes, part of these 118 airframes changes and changes that we put in there as a result of maintainability and reliability. The airplanes are continuing to fly at New River.

Q: Is it safe? Is it riskier to fly because of the maintenance?

Amos: It absolutely is not.


Q: I'm just trying to understand why over time -- I think Ken mentioned learning curve. Are you saying that the number of man hours to maintain these planes and keep them flying is now a certain level, and it will go down once you figure out the best way to do things, or once you figure out the real maintenance parameters that you need to do, once you have more experience with it? Is that why it will go down?

Amos: There are two reasons it will go down. One is the experience of the maintainers. And again, remember when they went to Operational Evaluation, the Marines that maintain those airplanes saw that airplane for the very first time. Where did they come from? They came from representative squadrons throughout the Marine Corps -- C-130s, CH-46s, H-53 squadrons. So their experience level has changed just since it entered Operation Evaluation. And a portion of those Marines have come to New River and Joined VMMT-204. So they are part of the reason why the maintainability of the airplane will increase, and the cost of maintaining the airplane will decrease.

The other piece of this thing is the quality assurance, just the changes that are being put into parts of the airplane -- the fasteners, the blade-fold wing (inaudible) -- the things that -- the (inaudible) plates on the airplane -- all those things that come from industry that only through flying an airplane and maintaining it in the fleet will you understand and learn just exactly what the nuances of that piece of -- specific piece of equipment are.

We learn that. It's not unlike -- probably not unlike my '72 Volkswagen that I bought brand new and I still have today. I can sure maintain that a lot easier today than I could when I first got it.

Q: General, just before you -- could we ask what your job is in connection with the plane?

Amos: I am Lt. Gen. McCorkle's deputy -- the assistant deputy commandant of Marine Aviation.

Q: Your first name, sir.

Bacon: James, Jim, first name?

Amos: Yes, sir, Jim.

Bacon: Jim. Jim Amos. Thank you very much, General. Appreciate it.

Reference #4

Washington Post, March 2, 2001, Pg. 1

Osprey Probe Reaches Pentagon's Top Ranks

By Mary Pat Flaherty and Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post Staff Writers



Investigators working for the Defense Department's acting inspector general, Robert Lieberman, recently took data from the computer hard drives of Lt. Gen. Fred McCorkle, the head of Marine aviation, and McCorkle's assistant, Brig. Gen. James F. Amos, several Marines and a Pentagon official said.


Investigators are also looking into the actions of Maj. Gen. Dennis T. Krupp, commanding general of the aircraft wing that includes the Osprey squadron in New River, N.C. Krupp met with the squadron in October and emphasized that computerized maintenance records were making the Osprey look bad, according to a summary written by an officer in training as an Osprey pilot.


Investigators have also confiscated the computer of the squadron commander, Lt. Col. Odin F. Leberman, who was reassigned to a desk job after the Pentagon received an anonymous letter and audiotape in January from someone claiming to be a mechanic in the squadron. On the tape, Leberman allegedly urged maintenance teams to "lie" to improve the Osprey's profile, telling them: "Believe me, the general gets a brief at seven o'clock every morning" about the aircraft's readiness.


Almost from the moment the allegations against Leberman became public, some Pentagon officials have questioned whether he was pressured by his superiors. "A lieutenant colonel on his own doesn't pop off and do that on his own initiative," said one official familiar with the Osprey program. "It is very likely he was under great pressure to make the aircraft succeed."