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美海军陆战队将在近期完成对“鱼鹰”机队战备完好性的调查
2016-05-17
【据《国防》杂志官方微博2016年4月26日透露】,自2015年10月开始,美海军陆战队已经展开对“鱼鹰”(V-22)机队战备完好性的全面评审,相关工作将在2016年夏末或初秋完成。本次调查是在美国会广泛担忧美海军陆战队的航空完好性不达标的情况下进行的,“独立战备完好性评审”工作由咨询公司LMI牵头。据该杂志透露,此次评审有望“确定飞机和维修人员方面牵涉战备完好性的问题以及造成这些问题的原因,以便为MV-22B界提供实现并维持T-2.0完好性率的最佳行动措施”。“T-2.0”是针对海军陆战队军机战备完好性的最高评级。
“鱼鹰”倾斜旋翼机于2007年服役,此前曾经历了10多年曲折的研制过程,并在2000年发生两次重大事故后一度停止了所有的飞行试验计划。但最终,倾转旋翼机仍属20世纪90年代直升机界最瞩目的飞行器,“鱼鹰”也成为美国海军负重的“驮马”,并因能垂直起降和高速飞行两大优点,被称为“作战游戏规则的改写者”。美海军陆战队在其2016年航空计划中就坦承,“展望未来,‘鱼鹰’仍属为美国军事‘新常态’提供保障的国家危机响应备选平台。”
但随着使用量的增加,老化问题接踵而来,进而给“鱼鹰”机队带来了新的压力,并促使海军陆战队的高层采取必要的应对措施。海军陆战队官员曾向美国会作证,证实“鱼鹰”机队正遭受航空完好性侵蚀问题;议员们也对有关海军陆战队频繁调配“鱼鹰”以使机队能够持续发挥作用的报道深感吃惊。据《海军陆战队时报》消息:美国防部总审计长2015年曾在一份报告中指出,在2009至2011财年之间,“鱼鹰”机队的战备完好率波动与45%~58%之间,远低于期望值82%。为此,海军陆战队曾在今年初的国会听证会上,简要介绍了该军种旨在提升“鱼鹰”机队战备完好率的措施。
实际上,根据海军陆战队内部人士透露,“鱼鹰”机队的状态和“大黄蜂”一样糟糕,战备完好率“正处于浴盆曲线的底部”。造成这种困难的原因,“在某些情况下是钱,而在另一些情况下是工程投入、可靠性、供应链管理,”海军陆战队负责飞行持续保障的助理常务司令Russell Howard在4月中旬召开的后勤界会议上透露, “我们给自己挖了个坑。由于没有足够的直升机,所以我们只好过分地使用那些仍能飞的,这样就形成了一个死循环……我们的处境和‘大黄蜂’一样惨……‘鱼鹰’正经受着很大的压力。”
Howard透露,这次委托LMI针对“鱼鹰”机队战备完好性开展的独立评审正是官方扭转这种状况而迈出的第一步,最终会形成改善“鱼鹰”机队的路线图。“鱼鹰”机队遇到的问题在全海军陆战队机队中都存在:“维修人员尽心尽力,基地维修能力存在很大局限,经费一直是个棘手问题。”
目前,“鱼鹰”机队共分为14个中队,拥有280架直升机;该机队的发展目标是18个飞行中队,共360架直升机。
“鱼鹰”机队是一个多企业合作的成功范例:贝尔直升机公司负责组装机身;波音与海军航空系统司令部一年前成立的“战备完好性运营中心”负责检测机队的性能异常情况,预计并安排整个机队的维修和后勤事宜;雷神公司负责机队的赛博事务。
据LMI透露,此次针对“鱼鹰”机队的战备完好性评审是一种“数据驱动”分析,目的是为未来的改进工作提供路径。针对该项目,LMI已经开发了相关模型和仿真软件,“以便计算机队战备完好性及其相关成本,方便用户针对不同变革项的潜在影响开展假设分析”。根据LMI消息,本次评审将来提供的行动建议,有助于军方更好地做好“定向项目投资”决策,考虑人员安排方面的备选方案。
另据海军陆战队发言人透露,类似的评审工作以前在“大黄蜂”和“超级种马”(CH-53E)也进行过。“因此,我们期望从‘鱼鹰’独立战备完好性评审中所得出的结论会产生同样的效果。”
随着服役后环境和任务的变化,“鱼鹰”机队的角色已经从单一的人员和货物运输平台扩展为联络不同战场的“指挥与控制”移动网络。这种新兴的任务角色以及由技术更新和新增电子设备带来的性能上的提升,给海军陆战队维修“鱼鹰”机队以及防止机队遭受黑客攻击带来了许多挑战。
雷神公司任务保障与现代化副总裁Todd Probert表示,“赛博之类的事情正是我所担心的。如何做才能将赛博融入战备完好性公式呢?”根据与海军航空系统司令部签订的合同,雷神公司负责“鱼鹰”机队航电系统和软件的整合和测试。Probert认为,“我们负责所有新增能力的任务性能认证。机身、螺旋桨和发动机当然很重要。但在目前情况下,愈发恼人的是飞行电子设施,因为完成飞行任务越来越等同于航电完好。”Probert透露,海军陆战队现在已经开始考虑软件的战备完好性问题,以阻挡黑客攻击。“随着这些系统越来越多地在飞行中联网,我们过去这些年中所看到的黑客威胁也会逐步侵入。可以这样说,持续保障工作的整体规则就在我们的眼前发生着真正的变化。”
Probert认为,“鱼鹰”是在三十多年前设计的,当时,整个社会的理念是“信任”;但现在,“我们正在走进‘不要相信任何人’的环境”。从技术上说,诸如手机这样消费性产品,“都比三十年前设计的军用系统更据赛博弹性”。(中国航空工业发展研究中心 张宝珍)
原文:Marine Corps Soon to Complete Probe of V-22 Fleet Readiness (UPDATED)
The Marine Corps plans to wrap up later this year a sweeping review of the state of the V-22 fleet. This probe comes amid a widening awareness on Capitol Hill of substandard aviation readiness across the Marine Corps.
An “independent readiness review” of the V-22 Osprey got under way in October and should be complete by late summer or early fall, said Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns.
Overseen by the consulting firm LMI, the review is expected to “identify issues and causes for aircraft and maintenance-personnel readiness, and to recommend the best courses of action for the MV-22B community to achieve and maintain a T-2.0 readiness rate,” Burns told National Defense. T-2.0 is the optimal readiness rating for Marine Corps aircraft.
The V-22 Osprey tiltrotor entered service in 2007 after a turbulent decade of development, safety problems and being on the brink of termination. In recent years, it has become a workhorse in the Marine Corps and hailed as a game changer in combat operations.
“In the years ahead, the Osprey will remain the nation’s crisis response platform of choice in support of the ‘new normal,’” said the Marine Corps’ 2016 aviation plan.
Rising demand and wear and tear, meanwhile, have stressed the fleet and prompted the Marine Corps’ top leadership to take action. Officials have testified on Capitol Hill about eroding aviation readiness, and lawmakers have expressed alarm at news reports of Marine crews cannibalizing aircraft to keep squadrons running. The Marine Corps Times last year obtained a Defense Department inspector general report that found V-22 readiness rates fluctuated from 45 percent to 58 percent from fiscal years 2009 to 2011, much lower than the desired 82 percent. Marine officials have briefed lawmakers in hearings this year about efforts to increase those rates.
In recent months, most of the spotlight has been on the deteriorating state of Marine Corps and Navy Hornet tactical fighters, but the readiness of the V-22 fleet of about 280 aircraft also is troublesome, officials said.
“It’s a bathtub we’re in,” said Russell Howard, assistant deputy commandant for aviation sustainment.
The downward spiral is the result of several issues dating back a decade, Howard said last week at a logistics industry conference. “In some cases it’s money, in some cases engineering investment, reliability, supply chain management,” he said. "We’ve dug ourselves a hole. You don’t have enough airplanes so you overfly the ones that are up, so it becomes a death spiral. … We’re in a dire situation with Hornets … and the V-22 is very stressed,” Howard said.
The independent readiness review is the first step toward turning this around, he added. “It will be our roadmap to bring back the V-22.” The issues are similar for all Marine Corps fleets, Howard explained. “Maintainers are struggling to do their jobs. Depot capacity is a serious problem. Funding is always a problem.”
fuselage is made by Boeing in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.
There are today 14 operational squadrons in the active fleet. The goal is to expand to 18 when the fleet reaches 360 aircraft. The Osprey is assembled at Bell Helicopter in Amarillo, Texas. The To help cope with aircraft availability problems, the Naval Air Systems Command and Boeing more than a year ago built a V-22 “readiness operations center” in Ridley Park to monitor performance anomalies and predict maintenance and logistical issues across the fleet.
An LMI fact sheet says the V-22 readiness review is a “data driven” analysis that will suggest a path to future improvements. For this project, the company developed modeling and simulation software tools to “calculate fleet readiness and associated costs, allowing users to perform what-if analyses to see potential impacts of proposed program changes.” According to LMI, the review will provide “recommended courses of action to enable the military to make targeted program investments” and consider staffing options.
Similar reviews were conducted in the past for the Harrier attack jet and the Super Stallion helicopter fleets, said Marine Corps spokeswoman Burns. “So we anticipate the findings from the Osprey independent readiness review to echo the same results.”
Marine officials have championed expanding the role of the Osprey from simply a mobility platform for troops and cargo to serve as a “command and control” mobile network link over the battlefield. These emerging missions and a slew of technology upgrades and advanced electronics planned for the Osprey will challenge the Corps to not only maintain the fleet but also protect aircraft from cyberattacks, experts said.
“The cyber stuff is what I worry about. How do we work that into the readiness equation?” asked Todd Probert, vice president of mission support and modernization at Raytheon. The company does the integration and testing of the Osprey avionics systems and software at a facility in Annapolis, Maryland, under a contract with the Naval Air Systems Command.
“We certify mission configuration for any new capability that’s deployed,” Probert said in an interview. The Osprey is an apt illustration of how the “sustainment” business is changing in military aviation. “The metal, the rotors, the engines, are important. But now more and more of these things are a flying avionics infrastructure,” he said. “Mission is becoming more about the avionics.”
The Marine Corps now has to consider the readiness of the software to ward off cyberattacks, he said. “As these systems become flying networks, what we have seen in the last couple of years is the cyber threat creeping into it,” said Probert. “The whole discipline of sustainment is really changing before our eyes.”
The V-22 was designed three decades ago, he noted, “when the broad philosophy was to trust. We’re coming into an environment of ‘trust no one.’” Consumer products like the iPhone have “more cyber resilience than military systems that were designed 30 years ago.”
Correction posted 4/27: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the location of the Osprey's assembly line.

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