Concerns about the Osprey? Who knew?

V-22 Testing Turns up Trouble

The V-22 Osprey, which may deploy to Iraq with Marines this year, suffered problems that hurt its mission effectiveness when the Air Force tested it for a month in the New Mexico desert, according to a new report from the Pentagon’s top weapons tester…

During an –operational utility evaluation” conducted last summer in the desert at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM, the effectiveness of the Osprey for training missions and potential combat missions was –degraded by poor aircraft availability,” says the report, issued Jan. 18.

–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,” the report says.

Some of the reliability problems –may be attributable to the extended exposure to the desert operating environment” where the assessment occurred, says the report.

Well, I guess as long as the Marines don’t deploy to any desert operating environments for extended periods they should be just fine.

Personally, I’m pulling for the Osprey program. Success would mean a huge boost in several areas, and helicopter operations haven’t been exactly a walk in the park. There were a lot of concerns about the Stryker, as well, and I called for it to be sent to Iraq ASAP so we could find out in the real world. The same applies to the Osprey (and any other new programs, big or small). We need to know, and there’s no test like actual use in a combat zone.

Like most big-ticket defense programs, the V-22 has been plagued by cost overruns, costly delays, and lowered expectations. That doesn’t mean that it’s a boondoggle. (Well, okay, it does mean it’s a boondoggle…But everything’s a boondoggle these days in military procurement, it seems.) Still, I’m more than a bit skeptical. We’ll see.


  1. Personally, I’m pulling for the Osprey program I am as well. But it’s been a long time a-coming. When I enlisted it was ‘the next big thing’ – pictures in Leatherneck, articles in the Gazette etc etc. Fast forward twenty-one years and they’re just getting around to deploying it. t in several areas, and helicopter operations haven’t been exactly a walk in the park. There were a lot of concerns about the Stryker, as well, and I called for it to be sent to Iraq ASAP so we could find out in the real world. The same applies to the Osprey. The thing about the Stryker is when one stops working you just tow it back to the garage. It is – all said and done – a truck with guns and not so very different from what has come before. Failure mode for an Osprey is a little more dramatic and each copy is a lot more expensive.

  2. The Marines have had success and failure in new equipment development. And they have conjured up some strange stuff too, like the howtar, the Mity Mite, etc. But they are committed to the Osprey, just as they were committed to eh CH46 which had serious and fatal development problems too. It’s good they continue to wring out the problems with this never before developed bird.

  3. Brian: Yeah, Strykers won’t fall out of the sky, but the concern there was that they’d be rolling death traps that would get stuck in the middle of a fight and get toasted by anyone with an RPG. That’s turned out not to be the case. With the Osprey, it appears that these latest desert problems had to do more with not being cleared to fly. That’s not good, but it’s not quite the same as up and crashing. It’s related, and any crashes will obviously be bad and involve a large number of casualties, but I guess I’m thinking that if the possibility of crashes are really that high they won’t go. If they DO go, and the problem is unavailability, that is something entirely different. Still needs to be fixed, and might send a message that maybe someone should think more about betting the farm on the Osprey, but it’s the sort of real-world test we probably need. Much harder to gloss over bad results. Still, I remain quite skeptical.

  4. Well I agree with Murdoc, send a squadron to Iraq and give the Marines the opportunity to each write reports about problems to improve it. From the CO to the Private turning a wrench we need to be able to see every problem with the program in the REAL WORLD. This would be similar with the new Uniform testing the Navy has been doing that everyday those testing the uniform or in this case working on or with the Osprey write a short report on problems or good things they have encountered. This will be vital to making improvements to the program when they return to the states. We need oppinions from all levels of the squadron, again officers and enlisted alike, pilots and mechanics alike.

  5. I predict that many more Marines will die when this thing goes tits-up in the harsh operating environs of Iraq and A-stan. I hope I’m wrong.

  6. I’ve wondered if it wouldn’t be a good idea to use a few of them for recon and patrol type missions (or even light cargo type runs) in Iraq and Afghanistan for a while before deploying as troop carriers. That would give some daily operation in a combat zone, letting maintenance lessons be learned and actual real-world results seen before committing to using it to haul large numbers of troops around. Flight and ground crews could get experience in the zone and operating bases could be set up before they arrive in force. Seems to me that it would minimize the risk while demonstrating whether the Osprey is a disaster waiting to happen. Assuming that it will be able to get the job done, a knowledge base will be established before things get too exciting.