Sat, May 17, 2003
New Show Of Confidence In Osprey? Not On Capitol Hill.
The Department of Defense has ordered 11 new V-22 Ospreys from a
consortium led by Boeing and Bell-Textron, totalling $817 million.
But a new report from Congress threatens to further stall the
Osprey program, keeping it from going into full production as
The military tilt-rotor program was in true danger of being
cancelled after 23 Marines died in Osprey crashes three years ago.
For 17 months, the program has been grounded while manufactures
redesigned the hydraulic systems and other parts of the aircraft
thought to have been problematic. The Marine Corps is pushing hard
for full production, hoping to soon replace a fleet of transport
helicopters older than many of the pilots flying them.
On the same day that the Pentagon issued the $817
million order, the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm
of Congress, issued a report warning against putting the Osprey on
the production line.
The GAO report stated, "plans to enter full-rate production
without ensuring that the manufacturing processes are mature" could
lead to more accidents.
Apparently unconcerned about the GAO report, the Pentagon's
shopping department, the Defense Acquisition Board, will meet
Tuesday to consider boosting the number of V-22 aircraft ordered
each year. That number is currently set at 11 - precisely the
number ordered by the DOD this week.
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