Marine Commandant Gen. Jim Amos revealed Feb. 18 at a breakfast meeting with reporters in DC that the Osprey fleet had passed a significant milestone recently with its birds deployed to Afghanistan. One of the Corps’ MV-22s deployed there had just passed its 100,000th flight hour.
“If you’re an aviator, and I am, that’s a big deal,” Amos said. He also added that the MV-22 Osprey which has been the whipping boy for decades as a death trap and budget buster “is the safest airplane, or close to the safest airplane” in the Marine Corps inventory.
I was in Washington, DC, when we lost the one on December 13, 2000. So this airplane since then has flown three combat deployments in Afghanistan, three combat deployments in Iraq and three Marine Expeditionary Unit deployments, so the aircraft is flying well.
He went on to admit that the spare parts support for the plane was jacked…mainly because the smaller companies that make some of the widgets on the complex craft were on a slow production scale to match the 10 and 1 aircraft manufacturing rate. He said he’s asked Bell-Boeing to lean on those “mom and pop shops” to boost production and get more parts to the field.
The company is working to incentivize the production folks to up their production rate so we can get what we call a deeper supply bench. Right now we’re taking a lot of the parts we have on the bench and sending them to Afghanistan. We’ve got a squadron and a half in Afghanistan now, another half squadron aboard the Kearsarge. So that’s our priority. They’re building the supply bench. It just takes time.