Ospreys Could Be Deployed Ahead Of February 2009 Deadline
The Osprey is ready for action. That's reportedly the word from
one US Air Force general, who said recently the service's CV-22
tiltrotors have performed so well in operational testing, he's
ready to send them on a mission sooner that planned.
The official "initial operating capability" date for the USAF's
Ospreys is February 2009, according to Reuters... and it's unusual
for aircraft to enter service ahead of the IOC. But sources say Lt.
Gen. Donald Wurster, who heads Air Force Special Operations
Command, recently told an audience he wants the tiltrotors in
action before then.
Wurster told industry and military officials he was pleased with
the Osprey's performance during operation trials that ended April
25, and that he wouldn't hesitate to send the Air Force's four
mission-ready CV-22s tiltrotors on a mission if their unique
capabilities were required.
"There's a lot of enthusiasm for the capability of the
aircraft," said one source. "It's such a leap in capabilities above
what anybody can do with a conventional helicopter that there's
definitely missions out there waiting for it. People have a lot of
good ideas about how this aircraft could potentially be used."
The General's statements aren't unprecedented. As ANN reported, the Marine
Corps have been flying their Ospreys in Iraq since October 2007,
and by all appearances -- and contrary to the worst predictions of
Osprey critics -- the aircraft has peformed admirably to date,
despite a problematic development phase that included four fatal
The Air Force hopes to purchase 50 CV-22s. Last month, the
Pentagon signed a $10.4 billion agreement with the Osprey's
manufacturers, Bell Helicopter and Boeing, to purchase a total 167
V-22s through 2012.
Jamie Darcy, spokesman for the USAF's V-22 program office,
wouldn't comment on Wurster's comments... but added the service
would be ready with spare parts and other provisions, should the
Osprey be pressed into service ahead of official projections.