May 27, 2008
Criticisms Emerge Of V-22 Osprey
CNN Newsroom, 10:00 AM
TONY HARRIS: The Marines V-22 Osprey is an odd bird, huge propellers and a broad body, but has it proven itself?
Here’s CNN’s Jamie McIntyre.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JAMIE MCINTYRE: When the V-22 Osprey flies unescorted, a lone tail gunner is its sole protector, but while not bristling with guns, the revolutionary heliplane is bursting with speed, and that’s its best defense argues the commander of the first V-22 squadron to see combat in Iraq.
LT. COL. PAUL ROCK, V-22 SQUADRON CMDR.: It’s harder to hit a rabbit when he’s running, you know, and we’re just moving faster and much more maneuverable airplane, difficult to engage.
MCINTYRE: The V-22’s original design included a! front-mounted gun that was dropped to save on weight. That was after former Marine Corps Commandant Jim Jones retired.
Does it bother you there’s no nose gun?
GEN. JAMES JONES (RET.), FORMER MARINE CORPS COMMANDANT: No, I would prefer that, but I may be just kind of traditional Marine that an airplane going into a hot zone that can’t fire, you know, to the front.
MCINTYRE: A hot LZ or landing zone is one where enemy fighters are trying to shoot down the V-22 as it is dropping off or picking up Marines in combat. In its combat debut, the Osprey never faced that kind of trial by fire because by the time it arrived in Anbar province, peace had broken out. Last year, “TIME” magazine portrayed the V-22 as a “flying shame,” unsafe, unable to shoot straight, unfit for battle. Mark Thompson who wrote the cover story says the jury is still out.
MARK THOMPSON, “TIME” MAGAZINE: Basically the V-22 performed well as a commuter bus in Iraq. I mean it did one medi! vac in its seven months there. It might have been shot at twice. It ba sically operated as a bus or a dump truck and did all those missions well.
MCINTYRE: One of “TIME” magazine’s criticisms, the lack of a forward-firing gun, has been validated by the fact that now after sinking $100 billion into the Osprey, the Pentagon is about to pony up millions more to retrofit it with a belly-mounted gatling gun on a gimble.
Could you use a little more firepower on the plane?
ROCK: It’s a (INAUDIBLE) I mean never ask a Marine if you’d like more guns. I mean, we’d always take another weapon on anything, an airplane, a Humvee or anything else.
JONES: If it’s doable and feasible, I would like to see one there and I think most pilots would also.
MCINTYRE: The call for arms could be even more critical next year when the Marines hope to take on a bigger role in Afghanistan.
Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon. (END VIDEOTAPE)