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Tuesday June 27, 2000

Marines: Osprey Has Deficiencies

WASHINGTON, USA ( AP ) - The Marine Corps on Tuesday acknowledged 23 ``deficiencies'' in its MV-22 Osprey, but said it is confident they can be fixed before the Pentagon decides whether to enter full-scale production of the hybrid aircraft.

The shortcomings were publicly identified last year and the Navy's director of air warfare granted waivers to allow the Osprey to enter a phase of development called operational evaluation before the corrections were made, Marine spokeswoman Capt. Aisha M. Bakkar-Poe said.

``None (of the deficiencies) are anything that would have any effect at all on the combat effectiveness of the aircraft,'' she said.

A decision on whether to enter full-scale production of the Osprey is scheduled for late this year. The Marines hope to field their first squadron of Ospreys in 2001.

Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said the 23 deficiencies are cited in a draft of a Pentagon inspector general report. Bacon said he discussed the issue Tuesday with the head of Marine Corps aviation, Lt. Gen. Fred McCorkle, who told Bacon that none of the 23 problems are safety issues.

McCorkle also said there is no connection between the deficiencies and the April 8 Osprey crash that killed 19 Marines. That accident investigation is not finished, but it is expected to cite pilot error rather than mechanical failure.

The Osprey crashed while participating in a simulated rescue operation as part of an evaluation of the aircraft's effectiveness in Marine Corps missions. That evaluation has resumed and is expected to be completed this summer, Bacon said. Afterward the decision will be made on entering full-scale production.

Among the deficiencies cited by the Pentagon's inspector general is the absence of defensive weapons on the Osprey, Bacon said. He said the Marines are installing defensive weapons on it but are behind schedule because Congress withheld money for that work.

Another problem: it takes too long to fold up the Osprey's wings after landing on a carrier. That and all the other shortcomings are being addressed, Bacon said.

The Pentagon declined to release the inspector general's report because it is not yet complete. Bakkar-Poe, the Marine spokeswoman, said the final report is expected by late July.

Critics question whether the Osprey is safe and worth the $36 billion price tag. The Marines consider it crucial to their future because it is intended to replace their aging fleet of troop-carrying helicopters.

The Osprey, which takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies like an airplane, is manufactured by Boeing Co. and Bell Helicopters Textron. The Marines plan to buy 360 Ospreys, the Navy 48 and the Air Force 50.

  • V-22 Osprey page
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  • Boeing timeline


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