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Bell-Boeing's MV-22 Osprey heads to Iraq
The MV-22 will have serve a seven month tour of duty in Iraq

Bell-Boeing's V-22 Osprey first took to the air nearly 20 years ago and the road to active duty has been a long one. When DailyTech last visited the tilt-rotor aircraft, the Air Force's CV-22 Osprey was criticized for its "poor aircraft availability" and "marginal operational availability" during desert testing at Kirkland Air Force Base.

"Frequent part and system failures, limited supply support, and high false alarm rates in the built-in diagnostic systems caused frequent flight delays and an excessive maintenance workload," claimed the report which was released earlier this year.

"This produces a maintenance and support burden that the Marines really can’t afford. All of the reliability problems that they continue to have here in the [United] States -- it’s going to drive them crazy overseas," said Philip Coyle, senior advisor for the Center for Defense Information.

Despite the troubles, the U.S. Marines will be deploying seven of its similar MV-22 Ospreys to Iraq in September. The Marines are hoping that the Osprey’s speed will allow it to quickly transport troops and make it less of a target for insurgents than slower, traditional helicopters.

"It is our fervent feeling that this aircraft is the most capable, survivable aircraft that we carry our most important weapons system in, which is the Marine or rifleman," said Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, the deputy commandant for aviation for the Marines. "If you've ever gone rabbit hunting, you know that it's harder to shoot a rabbit that's running than the one that's sitting still."

The push for the Osprey to enter regular military service has been a long time coming. In 2007 alone, there have been six crashes involving U.S. helicopters in Iraq. The Osprey's enviable speed (top speed 316MPH), ability to take-off and land like a helicopter and an operating range that is three to five times that of traditional helicopters should make it a great workhorse during its seven month deployment.

The V-22 Osprey is destined to replace the Marines' CH-46 Sky King by 2018. When compared to the CH-46, the Osprey has a range that is three times farther and has six to seven times the survivability in the field.

The tilt-rotor aircraft has been in development for over 20 years at a cost of over $20 billion USD.

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By OxBow on 4/16/2007 10:06:49 AM , Rating: 2
Beyond the technical problems listed, most of the fatalities in testing the Osprey have come from pilot error while transitioning to and from flight mode.

Apparently, it's extremely tricky to switch from flight to hover mode, and a small mistake is all that's needed to bring the thing down. It's one thing to try that on a test platform, it's completely different under live fire over a populated area.

I'm not saying the pilots here aren't the best possible, I'd they are some of the best. Which is all the more reason not to risk their lives in something that is so prone to problems and malfunctions.

By Griswold on 4/16/2007 10:44:04 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, 19 (one crash) of the 30 fatalities were caused by pilot error. 11 (2 crashes) due to technical failures.

It is assumed that the pilot error was due to too fast dive at a too low vertical airspeed - under these circumstances, the rotors could happen to move through their own turbulences, lose lift and result in a crash.

By Griswold on 4/16/2007 10:48:06 AM , Rating: 2
Correction: Horizontal airspeed of course. ;)

By Ringold on 4/16/2007 6:40:26 PM , Rating: 2
I confess.. that I don't get it?

At least, I don't understand how that's different than a normal helicopter diving too quickly with too little forward airspeed, somehow making the Osprey different. Assuming that it's in that configuration.. if it's diving fast with not enough forward airspeed in a normal configuration, well, pilots have been killed by being on the wrong side of the power curve even in probably every plane ever made, so again, not sure how it makes the Osprey special except in a case where the Osprey would get attention not warranted and not given to any other pilot-error related crash.

Though technical failures, that's easy enough to get.

By Ringold on 4/16/2007 7:01:40 PM , Rating: 2
I read the article, and it answered it for me: There was nothing for me to get.

It's flight restrictions on those dives are identical to helicopters; nothing new there, and deaths attributed to the Osprey due to those are misleading.

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