V-22 Engine Sustainment in Question:

The Rolls-Royce T406 turbo shaft engines that power the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft are not lasting as long as initially forecasted by the contractor, Marine Corps Col. Matt Mulhern, the Osprey program director with Naval Air Systems Command, said March 18. This is forcing the Navy to re-examine its long-term engine sustainment strategy for the V-22 and may lead to a re-engining effort, he said. “We have some long-term issues with Rolls-Royce,” Mulhern told reporters at a Navy exhibition in Washington, D.C. These issues and any changes made to address them would apply to Air Force Special Operation Command’s CV-22 variant. USMC V-22s have been operating in Iraq since last fall and the Air Force is working to have CV-22s available around September to deploy for the first time. Due to Rolls-Royce’s inability to recoup the cost of maintaining the engines under a power-by-the-hour arrangement, the long-term strategy for the program “doesn’t look like it’s going to work,” Mulhern said. Several engine components are not enduring as long as originally predicted. Engine compressors especially are eroding earlier than expected due to power demands that force the engines to run hotter, he noted. New additions to the aircraft, such as a directional infrared countermeasures systems and forward firing gun, will add weight, thereby placing even more demand on the engines, Mulhern said. While another strategy is mapped out, the Navy will continue with the existing contract for the next two years with some caveats, he said.