Tag Archives: United States Marine Corps

Osprey of Gunfire: The Tiltrotor’s First Firefight

Controversial Marine Tiltrotor Fights Its First Gun Battle | Danger Room | Wired.com.

Landing near the embattled Marine infantry, the V-22 immediately came under fire — a terrifying prospect for an aircraft with very little armor. …

The V-22 couldn’t really fire back on its own: It had just a single machine gun (either a .50-caliber or .30-caliber model) fitted to the rear ramp, covering an approximately 120-degree arc behind the aircraft — an arc that, at the moment, was blocked by Marines rushing to and from the cabin. …

Before the June battle, Tiltrotor Squadron 264 had specialized in “night inserts,” speeding small groups of Marines deep into Taliban territory under the cover of darkness.

The Osprey accomplished these missions despite an accident rate several times higher than the Marines will admit, and despite engines that wear out faster than expected, resulting in a recent 60 percent increase in maintenance costs.  For all the Osprey’s faults, the Corps loves the ungainly bird — so much so it wants to spend at least $8 billion on another 120 of them from manufacturers Bell and Boeing.

I suspect that the next batch of V-22s won’t be accident prone, nor will the engines wear out as fast. That’s the benefit of field experience.

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