Twentynine Palms, CA – U.S. Marines plan to phase out the CH-46 Sea Knight over the next eight years as they integrate the highly advanced MV22 Osprey as its replacement. The MV22 represents superior range, ceiling, load capacity, airspeed, and rate of climb. The Boeing CH-46 has become obsolete in compression, but some are sceptical over the MV22’s reliability.
Affectionately referred to as the “Phrog,” the CH-46 has a bug-eyed and seemingly smiling cockpit; the twin-rotor aircraft represents nearly half a century of reliability and tactical support on the battlefield for U.S. Marines.
First introduced in 1964 amidst the Vietnam War (1955-1975), many Staff NCO infantry leaders expressed a “don’t-fix-it-if-it-ain’t-broke” mentality during the phaseout with the MV22.
The once troubled MV22 tilt-rotor troop transport was fielded in 2007 at the expense of $67 million per aircraft. General Amos, a Marine Aviator and current Commandant of the Marine Corps, said, “It has been labelled a whipping boy, so-called death trap, and budget buster.” He added that he considers it the safest aeroplane, or close to the safest aeroplane, in the Marine aviation squadrons.
Major David Lane, a V22 Pilot, commented, “It simply outperforms the Phrog in every aspect. It also has a much smaller acoustic signature, a tactical advantage in the theatre of operation.”
It’s just a matter of time before the Marines realise the aircraft’s increased capability. Based on the statistics of the aircraft respective to threat and mission, the MV22 easily outperforms the CH46 on its best day.
MCAS Miramar recently recognised a milestone with over 100,000 log hours aboard the MV22 without a single mishap. Many Infantry battalion commanders are eager to utilise the MV22 and test the aircraft’s combat effectiveness.
Despite the Marine Corp’s ethos of “adaptability,” the nostalgia of the Phrog will be a bittersweet farewell salute.