Saturday, January 26, 2008

MV 22 Osprey

January 25, 2008: The U.S. Marine Corps has had ten MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft (a squadron) in Iraq for five months now [PHOTOS]. The marines wanted combat experience for their new aircraft, and they got it. This enabled the marines to find out what the MV-22 did best. As expected, the higher speed and cruising altitude of the MV-22 was very useful. Moving troops to where they are needed, or getting badly wounded marines to a hospital, were things the MV-22 excelled at, moving at twice the speed of the helicopters previously used. Cruising at a higher altitude (10,000 feet or more) than helicopters, and moving faster, gave the enemy much less opportunity to get off a shot, much less score a hit. The heavy use also revealed which parts were likely to wear out when, something you never really find out until you get the aircraft into a combat zone. The modern cockpit, including auto-pilot, makes the MV-22 much easier to fly than the helicopters they replace.

The V-22 is a complex piece of work, and this has resulted in a lot of development delays. At the moment, the U.S. Department of Defense has approved the purchase of 171 V-22 aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps, and 31 for U.S. Air Force units operating with SOCOM (Special Operations Command). The plan involves buying up to 35 V-22s a year, from 2008 to 2013.

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