DOD audit: Osprey may pose 'severe hazard'
- By Dan Verton, George I. Seffers
- Aug 21, 2000
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."