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Marine Corps metal: The V-22 Osprey, high-speed tiltrotor aircraft

It's said the failure of the Iran hostage rescue mission in 1980 showed the United States military a need for an aircraft like the V-22. Nine years later, in 1989 the Osprey took flight for the first time.

U.S. Marines jump from an Osprey Wikipedia/Vernon Pugh
U.S. Marines jump from an Osprey Wikipedia/Vernon Pugh
A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 prepares to land aboard USS Nassau in February 2008
A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 prepares to land aboard USS Nassau in February 2008
Wikipedia/Lt. Anthony Falvo

The military was looking for an aircraft like the Osprey that could take-off and land vertically. The Marines needed an aircraft that could carry cargo or troops at high speeds.

The Osprey can reach a top speed of 316 mph and can carry 20,000 lbs of internal cargo. It can hold 24 troops, and four crew-members.

It has vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities, and can also do short takeoffs and landings (STOL). It was manufactured by Bell Boeing and is a multi-mission military tilt-rotor aircraft.

The Marine Corps began training for the Osprey in 2000. In 2007, it was put into operation to supplement and replace the CH-46 Sea Knight.

The Osprey has seen both combat and rescue operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. It was created to combine the functionality of the conventional helicopter with the turboprop aircraft.

The Osprey would see combat, for the first time, when the Marine Corps deployed 10 of them to Iraq on April 13, 2007. The main role for the Osprey was to provide support in Iraq. It logged 2,000 flight hours in just over three months. It scored a mission capable rating of 68.1 percent.

The V-22 was used in Iraq's western Anbar province for routine cargo and troop deployment. It was also involved in some daring "aero-scout" missions while deployed to Iraq. In a little over a year of being deployed to Iraq the V-22 flew 3,000 sorties totaling 5,200 hours.

In 2010, the first Osprey was lost in combat, allegedly shot down by the Taliban. In February of 2011, the Marines announced the Osprey had surpassed 100,000 flight hours. Ospreys were noted as being "the safest airplane" in the Marine Corps arsenal.

Despite the Corps insistence about how safe the V-22 is, it has been plagued with cost overruns, design flaws and is responsible for many fatalities. From 1991 to 2000, the testing phase of the V-22, there were four crashes that killed 30. In in 2007, since being deployed into combat there has been six deaths.

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Be sure to click the video below this article to hear a little about the Osprey and the Marines who are around them.