Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider
The move has been in the works for a few years now, but come the turn of 2013, Barack Obama’s presidential fleet of Marine helicopters, “Marine One,” is due to add 14 V-22 Ospreys.Now, manufacturers added few modifications to the V-22s in preparation for the transition: a removable “VIP kit” which basically hides all that unseemly industrial interior, along with some snazzy floor carpeting.
Beneath those mods though, lurks the same hardcore baby the Marine Corps has been boasting about over the years — and in case you’re wondering, yes, it’s a hell of a ride.
Regardless, they aren’t for Obama to fly in personally. Reports say the helos will carry “supplies” and the “White House Press Corps” — which inspires images of white knuckled journalists at the whim of hot shot Marine aviation officers.
The Osprey took its first flight in 1989 and despite accidents that have killed dozens of troops — it's billed by some top ranking officers as one of the safest aircraft in the fleet
One of the problems with the plane is that the rotor can slip too deeply into its downwash — lose lift on one side and flip — the Osprey now has indicators alerting pilots when this situation develops
Aside from its vertical and traditional flight capabilities the aircraft can haul 8,600 gallons of fuel and fly twice as fast as the Sea Knight helicopter
The wings and blades also fold back for storage on ships and that nipple in front allows it to refuel in flight
The complex systems aboard the Osprey are an entirely new platform and after research and development are factored in each one costs about $100 million — the entire program is expected to cost $56 billion
These sensors alert Osprey pilots to any incoming threats and allow them to respond from the cockpit
The avionics suite up here includes a real time digital colour map and an electronic warfare suite to notify crew of missiles, radars, laser signals as well as jamming and countermeasure opportunities
Also criticised for being undergunned and ill-equipped to take into combat — the Osprey now has the option of carrying this M240 machine gun, the 7.62 mm Gatling gun, or belly mounted turret guns
Another safety problem were titanium hydraulic lines that rubbed against wire harnesses creating holes that caused fires — this is what caused one accident in 2000 that killed five Marines — the problem has since been fixed
Ospreys can't auto rotate — in a helicopter this is when blades continue to turn after power loss allowing for a controlled landing — but the lift from the Osprey's large blades can help pilots set the craft down safely
All the benefits of the Osprey come at a price — $10,000 an hour to fly compared with $4,600 to fly the Sea Knight it was supposed to replace
Despite its critics and the costs, the Osprey's not going anywhere and now the UAE and Canada are looking at buying some of their own in 2013
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