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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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Small correction about duration of development
By Griswold on 4/16/2007 10:32:41 AM , Rating: 2
The first prototype flew 18 years ago in 1989. Development started in 1983 though. It not only cost 20 billion dollars, but also 30 lives.

By Master Kenobi on 4/16/2007 12:21:18 PM , Rating: 1
Got news for you but 30 lives is absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. Welcome to testing, enjoy the stay. Testing new technology will almost always result in lives lost. Accept that and move on. Are losing lives good? No. Is it a fact of advancement? Absolutely. If you are so concerned with lives then stay home and never leave your house. When we go back to accepting the risks involved in advancement, we will make it back in the front running. Until then, we will continue to make slow progress all because people are so concerned that even 1 life lost is 1 too many.

Reality is that people are not priceless. People can be replaced. People will die during tests of new technologies, if you honestly believe testing can be conducted with little or no risk, your wearing rose colored glasses. Testers are volunteer only, so its not like these guys don't know what they are getting into, but they are willing to take the chance to advance. Stop BSing yourselves into thinking its a terrible tragedy.

By christojojo on 4/16/2007 1:15:21 PM , Rating: 3
Obviously you are volunteering to be one of the the thirty. To trivialize thirty deaths is a rather sad statement to make. It is understandable that some deaths will happen when testing theory made real but it is still a shame and tragedy for each one of those soldiers and their families. To say life does not matter makes you a politician or someone not endangered. I can say war is cool but most of the soldiers that suffer injuries would never want their children to undergo that type of hell.

RE: Small correction about duration of development
By OxBow on 4/16/2007 1:36:08 PM , Rating: 3
Hear Hear

The point of testing is to fix those problems, not keep wasting more lives, which is what is happening with the Osprey.

It's the Osprey that should be killed off, not the soldiers who have to use them.

By Ringold on 4/16/2007 6:29:46 PM , Rating: 2
As someone that knows test pilots, both current and retired, they're under no illusions over the dangers of flying experimental aircraft. I've known personally pilots killed just taxiing about the airport; any time a pilot takes the controls, we're aware of the risks, and assume the responsibility.

Military members are doubly so; not only have they volunteered to serve the military in any way the military wants to use them, they've volunteered for test pilot duty.

As I understand it, those 30 weren't all pilots, but anybody getting in an experimental aircraft should be aware of the dangers.

I don't mean to minimize their loss but progress has a cost; were the Mercury missions or Apollo 1 not worth it because volunteers were lost? I'd argue that not getting the project done after they sacrificed themselves to help push forward NASA (or the Osprey) when the potential for benefit and benefit still exists would be the only thing that would make their lives being lost a "waste", as they'd of died for nothing when those still living were too lazy, shellshocked or busy with a political motive to have the nerve to push on in the face of adversity.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer
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