Marines Still Back Osprey

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 9, 2001 - The Marine Corps has not
started a search for a replacement to the embattled V-22
Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, contrary to news reports.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Jones answered a
front-page story in The New York Times. The story said the
recent V-22 crashes that killed 23 Marines and the
allegation that a Marine Corps officer ordered subordinates
to falsify records has caused the Corps to look at
replacing the Osprey.

"There has been no watershed event that has prompted me to
ask for a search of options, or a study of alternatives to
the Osprey, and I have not done so," Jones said in a
written response to the article. "Nor have I any new
information that would lead me to believe that this
important program is 'in peril.'"

The entire MV-22 program is already being investigated by
an independent commission. The Marine Corps requested a
delay in the decision to move the Osprey to full-rate
production. DoD officials said they expect the review panel
to present its findings in April.

The investigation follows a crash in December that killed
the four-man crew. On April 8, 2000, an Osprey crash in
Arizona killed 19 Marines. The aircraft has been grounded
since the second crash.

"Following the December mishap in North Carolina, I asked
the secretary of defense to convene an independent study
panel to review the program in its entirety," Jones said.
"Until the results of this expert panel are available, the
Marine Corps must withhold a portion of its advocacy for
obvious reasons. In no way should this be construed as a
departure from our intent and determination in placing the
safest and best technology in the hands of our Marines.
Until proven otherwise, the V-22 remains the program of

In addition to the independent panel, the DoD inspector
general is looking into allegations that Marine Lt. Col.
Odin F. Leberman ordered subordinates to falsify V-22
maintenance records. Leberman was the commander of Marine
Medium Tilt-Rotor Squadron 204 and is alleged to have
wanted the records to reflect a higher ready rate than the
facts warranted.

Current plans call for the Marines to purchase 360 MV-22Bs,
the Air Force to buy 50 CV-22A special operations aircraft
and the Navy to purchase 48 HV-22Bs. The Air Force has two
test Ospreys at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The aircraft
are covered by the Marine Corps grounding order. The Air
Force plans to start training crews for the aircraft in
September 2003, with initial operating capability set for
February 2005 at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

There are a total of 12 Osprey aircraft. The Marine Corps
has eight, two test aircraft are at Naval Air Station
Patuxent River, Md., and the Air Force has the rest.

Related Site of Interest:
  • U.S. Marine Corps Press Release: Marine Commandant remains
    in support of V-22
    , March 7, 2001