Comer Calls for Pentagon Records in New Inquiry on V-22 Osprey Safety

Kentucky Republican and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer has called on the Pentagon to hand over documentation pertaining to the V-22 Osprey program’s safety after a tragic crash took place off the coast of Japan in November, which led to the death of eight U.S. Airmen. Mr. Comer’s concerns stem from prior crashes and overall long-term issues regarding the reliability of the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor military aircraft.

The V-22 Osprey is an aircraft with hybrid flight capabilities, enabling it to tilt its rotors upwards for vertical takeoff like a helicopter, and then point the rotors horizontally for forward flight like a typical prop plane. Various branches of the U.S. military operate different variations of the V-22 aircraft, including the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.

Mr. Comer’s demand for Pentagon documentation comes after the August crash of an MV-22B Osprey in Australia, which resulted in the death of three Marines and injured 20 others on board. Following this incident, the Marine Corps ordered a safety review, while the Department of Defense also initiated a broader operational stand-down for the Osprey fleet in light of the latest crash off the coast of Japan in November.

The calls for documentation by Mr. Comer include safety reports, maintenance records, training protocols for flight crews, and plans to upgrade or alter the operational use of the Osprey aircraft.

The investigation being spearheaded by the House Oversight Committee could potentially question whether the U.S. military budget should continue to support the Osprey program, with Mr. Comer writing, “The American taxpayer has invested heavily in the Osprey program. Each unit costs approximately $120 million to procure, and DoD has purchased over 450 Ospreys, spending billions of dollars in sustainment, operations, and maintenance.”

Mr. Comer expressed concern about the high cost and questioned the rationale behind such a significant expenditure, especially when considering that most fatalities involving the aircraft have happened during training exercises rather than combat operations. However, he also acknowledged that the program supports about 27,000 jobs across 44 states. While the Osprey program has shortcomings, particularly in terms of its safety record, it also has undeniable advantages, such as its capacity to carry up to twenty-four combat troops twice as fast and five times farther than previous helicopters. It is for these reasons that the program warrants additional oversight to ensure public safety.

Looking ahead, the investigation by the House Oversight Committee could have an impact on the future of tiltrotor aircraft. The U.S. Army recently awarded a contract to Bell Textron, Incorporated for its Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program. The Bell team submitted a tiltrotor design called the V-280 Valor in their bid for the FLRAA contract, which aims to eventually replace the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter fleet.

Additionally, Leonardo, an aerospace company, is making strides with its AW609 tiltrotor aircraft, which it plans to introduce to the civilian market. The development of the AW609 has roots tracing back to the 1990s, with links to the Bell XV-15, an experimental tiltrotor aircraft that served as a test bed for the V-22.

As the investigation into the V-22 Osprey program unfolds, the future of tiltrotor aircraft, both in military and civilian applications, remains a topic of interest.

Source: NTD


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