The Marine Corps is trying to acquire an adequate stock of spare parts to have on hand when the first Marine squadron flying the V-22 Osprey deploys to Iraq this fall.
Marine Corps Col. Matt Mulhern, who has the unenviable task of oversight for the
Albatross Osprey V22 widowmaker , whilst hanging out in the Press Bar at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget explained that the Marines are trying to anticipate which parts will suffer the most wear and tear. Fatalistically he explained , "Something will pop up that we didn't know about." You bet.
Bell Helicopter and the Boeing Co., ( 6,000 people in Fort Worth and 1,000 more in Amarillo depend on this program) who spent so long and so much money making this unarmed aircraft which carries 24 combat troops or internal payload of 20,000 lbs (qv Chinook = 25,000 lbs) and external payload of 15,000 lbs (qv Chinook = 25,000 lbs) want to build up supplies of key parts and components, (you bet they do) such as rotor blades and engines that will "inevitably" be worn down by the sand in Iraq.
VMM-263 Squadron, based at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., the first squadron will go operational in Iraq with the flying coffin "later this year" - which is what they said last spring. Pic is of two marines using the sling without covering fire - a curious picture as the rotors do not appear to be rotating.
Each V-22 squadron will have 10 aircraft but will be staffed for 12 aircraft.
Amazingly there are reports that the Pentagon is now negotiating with Bell and Boeing for a five-year order for 167 more Ospreys for about $10 billion, plus the cost of engines (roughly $2 million each), even though it has not yet seen active service.