Operational readiness rates for the MV-22 are improving, Marine Corps and Boeing officials said at the Navy League's annual conference today.
The ultimate goal is 82 percent for the aircraft once it achieves full operational capability in 2018 (note that this is a production term; it doesn't mean that's when the plane is ready to fly), said Marine Col. Greg Masiello, program manager. Also, Masiello dismissed the idea that the Marines or Air Force special operators avoid using the Osprey for tough missions to improve readiness rates. "There has been a lot of speculation about are we babying the aircraft. Absolutely not," he said. Among the examples he offered: CV-22s flew from the U.S. to the North African country of Mali. a nine-and-half hour flight "straight over water. And MV-22s are deploying from a MEU and from land bases in Afghanistan, carrying combat troops and generally "performing outstandingly."
The MEU flight managed a 72.6 percent mission capable rate. In Iraq, they came in around 68 percent. Yesterday's mission capable report for the fleet had them managing a 69 percent mission capable rate. After finishing the public presentation he did with Gene Cunningham, Boeing VP for the V-22, Masiello took the straight Marine approach with me and another reporter. "Look, we aren't content with the rates we've got and we're working to improve them and we're seeing results," he said.
On other program fronts, Boeing will bid on the presidential helicopter program, Cunningham confirmed. And Masiello answered one of the most important questions surrounding the whole idea: can a V-22 land on the White House lawn: "It fits, by the way."
And while Masiello declined to answer my questions about the recent loss of CV-22 in Afghanistan, he did make a point of saying the MV-22 and CV-22 fleets continued their operations "and did not stop them." That would seem to indicate that no significant equipment problem was suspected in the crash. We keep hearing it was from brownout, but nothing official has been said and won't be forthcoming until the crash investigation is complete.