Jim Furman is a former Army helicopter pilot. He is now a lawyer who represented the families of the Marines killed in Osprey crashes. He says the Osprey has systemic design flaws.
Lt. Col. Buddy Bianca has flown the Osprey for the past eight years and is one of the Marine Corps' most experienced Osprey pilots. He calls the aircraft "revolutionary."
The Osprey is the Pentagon's most expensive aircraft to date, costing $20 billion to develop over 25 years. Called a "technology leap," it can lift off the ground like a helicopter but when its engines are horizontal it can fly like a conventional airplane. In a few months, the Osprey, which costs $110 million each to make, will be taken to Iraq.
While its developers say that it can fly faster and higher than the Vietnam-era helicopters it's replacing, the Osprey has been plagued with problems. Over the years the aircraft has crashed three times, killing 26 Marines and four civilians.
A memo obtained by the NewsHour dated June 7 said the Osprey still has technical issues, including "fuel system leaks" and "nose landing gear failures" which could cause a crash. Because of these and other problems the Osprey has been fully mission capable only 62 percent of the time. Even the Pentagon's former chief weapons tester, Philip Coyle, who is now a senior adviser at the Center for Defense Information, said the Osprey won't stand up to insurgent ground fire, claiming that its lack of armor will leave it vulnerable. But the Pentagon contends that it would not send the Osprey into battle if it weren't confident in the aircraft's abilities.