This article first appeared in Defense Technology International.
The U.S. Marine Corps is acting as the lead service on the Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor, with three deployments to Iraq under its belt and a squadron flying from the deck of the USS Bataan amphibious assault ship. Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (Afsoc) is growing its own fleet of CV-22s, steadily building hours and mission profiles.
The Marines have recently suffered critiques from Washington for cost and performance issues, most notably in a May Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that cited the aircraft's "unresolved operational effectiveness and suitability issues." But the service takes exception to several deficiencies in the report. "We worked with the GAO for months, showed them everything, and yet we still think that their report misses the mark," says Lt. Gen. George Trautman, deputy commandant for Marine Corps aviation.
The report covers ground trodden by the program for more than two decades, listing problems Trautman says the service is addressing or has dealt with already. Support for the platform has not ebbed among certain lawmakers despite a June declaration from Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, that the aircraft should be "put out of its misery." Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, traveled to Camp Lejeune, N.C., in August to seek what he called the "ground truth" behind claims made against the MV-22. "I've found that if you want to know the truth and understand the facts, it's imperative that you get out into the field and speak one-on-one with those operating these systems," says Murtha. "The Marines are very satisfied with the MV-22's operations."