View Full Version : Marines aircraft finishes operations test

06-30-05, 02:06 PM
Given to me by Mark aka The Fontman

Marines aircraft finishes operational tests
By Estes Thompson
The Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. - The Marine Corps is a step closer to adding the MV-22 Osprey to its aircraft fleet after the unique tilt-rotor aircraft successfully completed another round of testing, military officials said Wednesday.

The Osprey program was temporarily put on hold after a pair of crashes five years ago killed 23 Marines. But after the successful completion of a recent series of operational tests, the Corps is preparing a report to Congress that's likely to recommend purchasing hundreds of the aircraft that take off like helicopters and fly like airplanes.

"It survived just about everything from ax-wielding politicians to fatal crashes," said aircraft analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group of Fairfax, Va. "The only obstacle left is the price tag. That's a lot of money."

The Marine Corps estimates each Osprey will cost $71.1 million but hopes to trim the price to about $58 million by the end of the decade, said 2nd Lt. Geraldine Carey, a spokeswoman at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C.

Aboulafia said that if the Marines can't cut the cost, they might have problems with Congress, forcing them to keep some of the older Vietnam-era helicopters the Osprey is designed to replace.

Military commanders say the Osprey can fly farther and carry more troops and equipment than the Corps' aging fleet of CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters. The Osprey can take off and land like a helicopter but flies like an airplane after its rotors shift from vertical to horizontal.

Operational tests at New River, which is adjacent to Camp Lejeune, as well as at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada and aboard the USS Bataan began March 28 and ended June 18.

The Marine Corps' Osprey testing squadron "flew all evaluation flights and completed the test early," squadron commander Col. Glenn Watters said. "We will now continue to fly and train to support future operations."

An Osprey crash in 2000 resulted in the deaths of 19 servicemen in Arizona. Later the same year, four Marines died in another crash when an Osprey went down during a training mission outside Jacksonville, N.C., near Camp Lejeune. Osprey flights were then halted for about 18 months.

Since that time, the program has undergone a painstaking evaluation. The most recent tests involved multiple crews at high altitudes, in extreme cold and in hot and sandy desert conditions, officials have said.

The Corps is confident enough of its results that it plans to show off the aircraft to reporters in July at New River.

The report to Congress will take a couple of months to prepare, Carey said.

"Once Congress gets that report, then the decision will be made," Carey said. "How long that decision takes, I have no idea."

Since resuming test flights in December 2002, the Osprey has been grounded at least two other times because of faulty equipment.

Flights were suspended for a few weeks earlier this year because the coating on a part in a gearbox was wearing off faster than expected. The Marine Corps also grounded the fleet in March 2003 to remove faulty tubing from any critical parts of the hydraulic systems, a repair that cost more than $4 million.

The Osprey squadron at New River, currently the center of Osprey evaluation and training for the Marines, has 14 aircraft and about 330 people. The squadron typically has about three flights a day. The Marine Corps has said it wants to buy 360 Ospreys, the Navy 48 and the Air Force 50 for special operations.


06-30-05, 02:44 PM
This a a piece of shlitz plane and eveyone knows it is look how many of our brothers this piece of shlitz has killed all ready, its time to say NO to this project...