|SLUG: 2-270405 Marines / Aircraft (L update)||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
TITLE=MARINES / AIRCRAFT (L UPDATE)
/// EDS: THIS REPORT UPDATES CR 2-270396, OSPRY REVIEW ORDERED ///
INTRO: The future of the U-S Marine Corps' revolutionary tilt-rotor aircraft may be in doubt following another fatal crash. V-O-A Pentagon Correspondent Alex Belida reports on the troubled Osprey program.
TEXT: U-S Defense Secretary William Cohen will appoint a high-level experts panel to review the Osprey program.
Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon made the announcement after the Marine Corps disclosed one of its few test tilt-rotors crashed in North Carolina Monday night, killing all four crew on board. One of the dead was the Marines' most experienced Osprey pilot.
It is the second fatal accident involving the plane this year. Nineteen Marines were killed in April when an Osprey crashed in Arizona. There were two crashes of prototypes in the early 1990s, one of which left seven dead.
Mr. Bacon says Secretary Cohen is concerned by the deaths of service personnel.
/// BACON ACTUALITY ///
He (Cohen) is determined to make sure the program (Osprey) is as safe and as effective and cost-effective as possible.
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The Marine Corps' eight remaining Osprey aircraft have been grounded in the wake of the latest accident. The Pentagon has also delayed indefinitely a final decision on whether to proceed with full-scale production of the aircraft, which can take off and land like a helicopter but fly like an airplane.
Marine officials say they do not know what caused the latest crash. But they insist the plane is both safe and reliable. They say the Osprey can fly twice as fast, several times further, and carry a heavier payload than the aging transport helicopters it is intended to replace.
The Marine Corps plans to purchase 360 Ospreys at a cost estimated at between 40 and 80-million dollars each. Marine strategy documents make clear the tilt-rotor aircraft is intended to be the centerpiece of the corps' future aviation operations. (Signed)