DOD audit: Osprey may pose 'severe hazard'

The Marines Corps proceeded to develop and fly one of its most advanced

high-tech aircraft despite nearly two dozen known deficiencies in onboard

computer systems and other equipment, according to an internal Pentagon


The report, released last week by the Defense Department's inspector

general, concluded that the Marine Corps waived 22 major deficiencies during

its test of the V-22 Osprey, some of which represent "a severe hazard to

the weapon system or personnel," raising the possibility that the aircraft

may not be able to support missions properly.

The Osprey Joint Advanced Vertical Aircraft is a tilt-rotor aircraft

that acts like a helicopter during takeoff and landing and, once in the

air, rotates its engines so that it can fly as a turboprop aircraft. Although

the IG report found that the aircraft had not been cleared to conduct combat

maneuvers, an Osprey crashed on April 18 during a tactical exercise in Arizona,

killing all 19 Marines aboard.

"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, and also

in fielding aircraft that will not be able to perform all of the missions

required," the report stated.

A spokesman for Marine Corps headquarters told FCW that before entering

operational evaluation, the V-22 had received temporary waivers "for a relatively

small number of aircraft deficiencies" and that none were safety-related.

"None were serious enough to delay operational evaluation, and all [of the

waivers] were temporary," the spokesman said.

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

waivers requested by the program by next month. Corrections to many of the

deficiencies are planned between December 2001 and February 2002.

An aviation analyst requesting anonymity agreed with the Pentagon report

and questioned whether the aircraft should be approved for full production.

"The IG has some good stuff, but the military will just wave it off,

and [the Osprey program] is going to go forward," the analyst said. "The

report is not going to make any difference."


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