|SLUG: 2-272763 Marines / Osprey (L only)
TITLE=MARINES / OSPREY (L ONLY)
INTRO: A new report casts further doubt about the safety and reliability of the U-S Marine Corps' controversial V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. V-O-A Correspondent Alex Belida reports from the Pentagon.
TEXT: The Marine Corps is not commenting on the new report which was issued by the government's General Accounting Office.
The report, not yet publicly released, was summarized in the Washington Post newspaper Monday. It says the G-A-O study found the Marine Corps omitted tests of the Osprey to save time and money. It says the tests could have shed light on an aerodynamic problem that caused one of the aircraft to crash last April, killing 19 Marines.
It also accuses the Marines of ignoring warnings about problems with the Osprey's hydraulic system. Investigators believe a failure of the hydraulic system contributed to another fatal crash last December. Four Marines died in that accident.
Despite these incidents and two earlier crashes, the Marine Corps' leadership has steadfastly defended the Osprey, which takes off and lands like a helicopter but can fly like an airplane. They say it is needed as a replacement for the Marines' aging fleet of helicopters and can fly faster and father, carrying more troops and equipment.
The Marines want to buy more than 300 Ospreys, but a decision on full-scale production has been put off pending an investigation into the latest crash.
A separate investigation is also under way into accusations that a top officer ordered the falsification of maintenance records on the Marine Corps' existing small fleet of test tilt-rotors to make it appear that the aircraft is more reliable. (Signed)