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.