The CMV-22B and Fleet Support
It is axiomatic that robust logistics systems win wars on land and especially at sea. In a protracted naval battle, the importance of moving critical personnel, parts, munitions, medical supplies, and the world’s most advanced fighters’ powerplant around any Area of Responsibility (AoR) will become a limiting factor unless the Navy reassesses its approach to contested logistics and ultimately procures the equipment required to succeed.
If deterrence fails and conflict occurs, naval commanders will have to resupply their forces over vast distances, posing significant operational challenges where force structure does not match its strategic combat logistics requirements. The Bell Boeing CMV-22 delivers operational flexibility with the speed and range to move cargo and forces to support combat logistics for a distributed force in a contested environment across thousands of miles.
Unless action is taken soon, V-22 production will end when the logistic demand signal for potential major combat operations is reaching its peak.
If the Navy is going to leverage the CMV-22 to solve complex logistics problems in contested environments and fully support the Fleet, additional aircraft beyond the current Program of Record will be required. The Navy must recognize the reality that the V-22 production line will someday come to an end and leverage the opportunity to cost consciously add to the Program of Record to reap the benefits this aircraft can bring to fleet readiness and warfighting sustainment in contested maritime environments.
It isn’t hard to imagine the need for an additional CMV-22 force structure that would be required in a protracted Pacific conflict. When you consider the amount of personnel and cargo that would be required to support such an effort, the problem of resupply is not just a Navy problem – it is a “Naval” & “Joint Force” problem.
In the case of an Indo-Pacific conflict, the Navy needs to be prepared for a scenario not seen in the past 80 years. The size of the Pacific AoR, and the potential logistical capability gaps that will undoubtedly come to light when executing Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations, Distributed Maritime Operations, and Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment, will drive Combatant and Naval Component Commanders to spend as much time planning how to support the force as they will employing it.
The requirement to move passengers and cargo between dispersed Expeditionary Advanced Bases, Forward Logistic Support Sites, and ships at sea will prioritize the need for a dedicated logistics connector. How the Navy and Joint Force leverages the versatility and capability of its aviation forces will be key – tiltrotor technology will play an essential role.
The speed, range, endurance, and flexibility the V-22 has demonstrated over decades of performance, including combat, paved the way for the Navy to develop its own variant of the Osprey.
Tiltrotor technology opens doors to new missions and operational possibilities that provide the Navy with the overmatch and operational flexibility it needs to solve the problems of contested logistics and provide support to the Fleet when operating as a distributed force.
Just as the Marine Corps and Air Force found new and creative ways to leverage tiltrotor technology, the Navy will also learn how to operate and integrate the Osprey into its Carrier and surface support groups of the future.
The Navy must have an updated, survivable, and sustainable concept of operations for combat logistics in the Pacific.
The Osprey is unique in it can support and sustain the Fleet and Joint/Combined Force while simultaneously augmenting the Carrier Air Wing’s combat capability and lethality.
Bell Boeing has decades of experience producing Ospreys. That expertise will be required to continue to sustain and upgrade the V-22 for several decades to come.
Procuring additional Ospreys and protecting the nation’s only tiltrotor industrial base is critical to ensure the Navy and the Joint Force are ready to meet the required logistical throughput envisioned in a future era of extended combat both in the littorals and at sea.
Chris Misner is Senior Manager, Bell Military Sales & Strategy
The featured photo of the CMV-22B is credited to Raymond Rivard, San Diego, CA