If you’re a pilot or mechanic working on the Marine Corps’ prized V-22 Osprey, you probably spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel. That’s because the 129 MV-22Bs in service come in more than 70 different configurations, identical to the untrained eye but all subtly different — for example, in the cockpit layout, the electrical wiring, even the arrangement of bolts — which means they require subtly different flight checklists, maintenance procedures, and spare parts. If it’s not a logistical nightmare, it’s at least an acute headache — and more expensive than it needs to be.
That’s why the Marines and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), which buys aircraft for the Corps, is charging ahead with a program to reduce those 70-plus versions to 25 by 2027 and — the ultimate goal — approximately five by 2030. Common Configuration – Readiness and Modernization (CC-RAM) will also upgrade the 129 existing Block B Ospreys to the Block C configuration now coming off the assembly line. (The Marines are also buying 151 brand-new Cs). The upgrade improves everything from weather radar to flare dispensers, from night-vision displays to how much data is available to the passengers so Marine infantry can update their mission plans en-route to the target.
There’s more at the link.
The Marines aren’t alone in facing this problem. For example, there are over 100 F-35 Lightning II aircraft that aren’t up-to-date with all modifications and improvements – and they may never be updated, because it would cost too much. I find that absolutely unconscionable, a ridiculous and inexcusable waste of taxpayers’ money. If I could, I’d fire everyone involved . . . but we all know that’s not going to happen, no matter how inefficient and wasteful the F-35 program may be.
During World War II, the B-29 Superfortress program was rushed into service, despite ongoing technical and design issues, because wartime pressures made it necessary. Even a greater casualty rate among aircraft and their crews was acceptable under the circumstances. However, we’re not at war now, and I see no reason for the Marines – or any other branch of the US armed forces – to buy equipment varying so widely in technical specifications and capabilities from one example to another. Why was this allowed to develop in the first place – and why haven’t those responsible been fired?