BAE’s Turret to Deploy in CV-22s, MV-22s
In the past specific and detailed allegations were made concerning the V-22 Osprey‘s performance, testing flaws, and survivability issues in anything beyond low-threat situations like the Anbar deployment in Iraq. Despite direct offers, US NAVAIR chose not to respond or address any of those allegations. One of the flaws that appeared headed for correction, however, was the issue of 360 degree covering fire. This capability is useful for fire support. It is especially helpful when entering or covering landing zones, where rotary aircraft are most vulnerable.
The Osprey’s huge propellers and the positioning of its engines had created obstruction issues for normal machine gun mounting locations, but AUSA 2007 saw BAE Systems promoting a retractable belly turret solution based on a 3-barrel 7.62mm GAU-17 minigun. Special Operations Command has ordered some, and now the US Marines have deployed with them.
Contracts and Key Events
Work will be performed in Johnson City, NY (95%), and Philadelphia, PA (5%), and is expected to be complete in December 2015 (N00019-07-G-0008).
Jan 17/12: DOT&E testing. The Pentagon releases the FY 2011 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). For the V-22, a follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation (FOT&E) dubbed OT-IIIG that took place between August and November 2011.
DOTE’s report discussed the IDWS, noting that its 360 firing radius can only work in limited firing arcs during landing approach. Coordinating targeting with the gunner also adds an extra burden on the co-pilot, and mounting this turret reduces the useful cargo and troop payload. On the other hand, the weapon has been effective when used. The competing ramp-mounted .50 caliber machine gun (RMWS) doesn’t have these issues, because it’s limited to facing the rear of the aircraft, though it is in the way on the ramp. Pick your poison. DOTE [PDF].
March 10/11: BAE Systems Controls, Inc. in Johnson City, NY receives a $12.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 12 IDWS mission kits to support the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft. The kits include the gun system, optical turret, and controller hardware and software. This appears to be the option from the Dec 29/10 award.
Work will be performed in Johnson City, NY, and is expected to be complete in December 2012. The US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-C-0022).
Dec 29/10: BAE Systems Controls, Inc. in Johnson City, NY receives a $14.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for an unspecified number of “Interim Defensive Weapons System (IDWS)” mission kits for the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft. The kits include the gun system, optical turret, and controller hardware and software. The contract also includes a $12 million exercisable option for additional systems and support.
Work will be performed in Johnson City, NY, and is expected to be completed in December 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured by the US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-11-C-0022). See also BAE Systems.
September 2010: Combat Aircraft magazine reports that:
“The BAE Systems GAU-17 7.62mm-calibre turreted mini-gun was rushed into service and is fitted in the hatch (‘hell hole’) under the fuselage… The USMC also qualified a .50-calibre weapon for the rear ramp. Despite rushing a handful of the turreted guns to theater, the Marine Corps has been less than enthusiastic, calling it ‘heavy and difficult to use.’ /indeed at 800lbs it has a profound effect on troop carrying capability and crews reportedly prefer to use their speed to defeat ground threats.”
April 1/10: The Pentagon releases its April 2010 Selected Acquisitions Report, covering major program changes up to December 2009. With respect to V-22 self protection:
“According to program officials the program has purchased eight belly mounted all quadrant (360 degrees) interim defensive weapon system mission kits [DID: see RGS article]. Five kits are currently on deployed V-22 aircraft… the speed, altitude, and range advantages of the MV-22 will require the Marine Corps to reevaluate escort and close air support tactics and procedures.”
June 15/09: Aviation Week reports that The U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 squadron that expects to deploy later this year to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan’s Helmland region is now flight testing the RGS turret.
USMC Lt. Gen. George J. Trautman III is quoted as saying that July 2009 will see full operational tests, and that he remains confident the RGS turret will remain on schedule. The USMC is also qualifying a 50-cal. ramp-mounted gun, to replace the current 7.62mm M240, another change that’s in sync with US Special Forces plans for their CV-22s.
May 8/09: Tell it to the Marines. Military.com reports that the Marine Corps has ordered 9 Remote Guardian System kits, “but hopes to buy scores more to outfit the entire fleet of MV-22 aircraft.” The service is also reportedly working to upgrade the Osprey’s ramp-mounted machine gun to a .50 caliber version from its current M240 7.62mm machine gun. USMC Lt. Gen. George J. Trautman III, deputy commandant for aviation, is quoted as saying that the system is for fire suppression, adding that:
“I wouldn’t expect to kill a lot of people with this system… It’s a very difficult challenge without sophisticated fire control technology to be precise in your targeting.”
May 1/08: Production begins. BAE Systems Inc. in Johnson City, NY receives a FFP pre-priced contract modification for $8 million for a CV-22 interim defense weapon system productions option in support of U.S. Special Operations Command and NAVAIR. Work will be performed in Johnson City, NY from April 30/08 through Jan 31/09, using FY 2006 SOCOM procurement funds and FY 2008 Navy aircraft procurement funds. This is a within scope modification to a competitive contract where 2 offers were received (H92222-08-C-0006-P00003).
Jan 17/08: BAE Systems announces that they will develop the Remote Guardian System for the CV-22 Ospreys that will be flown by US special forces. The $491,000 U.S. Special Operations Command contract calls for rapid development, installation, testing, and qualification of this solution, and has a potential value of $16.3 million if all options are exercised and the solution goes into production for the SOCOM fleet.
The US Marine Corps’ MV-22B tilt-rotors are not involved in this contract, nor have they signed a separate contract with BAE Systems at this time.
- YouTube – VMM-365 MV-22 OSPREY with Interim Defensive Weapon System (IDWS) . Lists at least some of the video as by “Capt. Hill, R.” at Yuma and 29 Palms. IDWS is in the 2nd half of the video.