Study cites Osprey IT deficiencies

An internal Pentagon study of the Marine Corps' developmental V-22 Osprey

aircraft found that as many as 22 "major deficiencies" in on-board systems

received temporary waivers during testing and evaluation of the aircraft.

The report, released Aug. 15 by the Defense Department's inspector general,

concluded that because so many major deficiencies had been waived during

testing, the aircraft may not be capable of performing all of its

required missions once fully fielded. The study also concluded that some

of the deficiencies represent "a severe hazard to the weapon system or personnel."

"Beginning full-rate production at the same time that major deficiencies

are still undergoing testing could result in the V-22 program's incurring

additional costs to correct deficiencies in existing aircraft," the report

states.

The V-22 Osprey Joint Advanced Vertical Aircraft acts like a helicopter

during takeoff and landing. Once in the air, it converts the position of

its engines to a turboprop aircraft. Although the IG report found that the

aircraft had not been cleared to conduct combat maneuvers, an Osprey crashed

April 18 during a tactical exercise in Arizona, killing all 19 Marines aboard.

In a written response to the study, Marine Corps and Navy officials

challenged the IG's findings and claimed that there are not 22 major deficiencies

in the aircraft's operational effectiveness, "and the deficiencies described

are in no way safety-related." Officials added that no operational requirements

had been waived and that the V-22 program office believes all key performance

parameters will be met.

The Navy and Marines plan to complete a detailed review of all testing

waivers requested by the program by September. Corrections to many of the

identified deficiencies are planned between December 2001 and February 2002.

The report comes at a critical time for the Osprey program. In the aftermath

of the April crash, critics have charged that the program suffers from serious

shortcomings. The IG report listed the following major deficiencies in IT

systems as having received a waiver from testing:

* The aircraft is not cleared for air combat maneuvering.

* The aircraft is unable to align Light Weight Inertial Navigation System

without Global Positioning System signal.

* The multifunction display has low reliability.

* The pilot is isolated from intercommunication system wile transmitting

in unsecured mode.

* A ground collision avoidance and warning system not available.

* The Avionics Navigation System does not provide data other than World

Geodetic System.

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