Defense Department officials say the hybrid aircraft was the fastest way to get Mr. Panetta and his entourage to New York that day. But anyone who has followed the tortured history of the Osprey over the past quarter-century saw the persistent, politically savvy hand of the Marines in arranging Mr. Panetta’s flight — and another example in what has become a case study of how hard it is to kill billion-dollar Pentagon programs.
“At a car dealership, what the salesman wants to do is get you inside the vehicle,” said Dakota Wood, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and defense analyst. “You take the test drive and wow, it’s got a great stereo, it feels good, it has that new-car smell.”
We’ve long objected to the Marines purchase of the Osprey. Not because “it’s a death trap”- it’s not. Mostly, we simply can’t support buying helicopters that cost almost twice as much as an F-16.
Further, the MV-22 really only makes sense in the context of the Marines/Navy vision of Over The Horizon amphibious assault. And doctrine is really only practical if ALL the elements of amphibious assault work as planned. When the Navy/Marine Corps team started ginning up the OTH doctrine about 20 years ago, it was technologically ambitious. The three most visible programs associated with it were the MV-22, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, and the LPD-17 class of amphibious ships.
The MV-22 had already been in development for a decade at that point. Since then, it has entered into service. The EFV has been cancelled, and the LPD-17s are such awful lemons they are a drain on fleet funds, rather than any real contribution to combat power.
We strongly support maintaining a robust amphibious forced entry capability. But this isn’t the way to go about it.