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Presidential Transport Group Gets Osprey Tilt-Rotor

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photo credit: Associated Press/Steven Senne

photo credit: Associated Press/Steven Senne

The presidential helicopter group, Marine Helicopter Squadron One, Saturday debuted its new MV-22 Ospreys, and will receive a total of 12 of the tilt-rotor aircraft, none of which will be used to move the president, and all of which cost more than $10,000 per hour to operate, according to the GAO. The aircraft were used over the weekend to carry staff, Secret Service and news media, and will be phased in to replace CH-46E helicopters currently used by the group. The cost for the aircraft is currently estimated at roughly $70 million each. Relative to the CH-46E Sea Knight the Ospreys are replacing, the new aircraft offers some performance advantages. It also carries the memory of some early fatal accidents.

The Osprey is capable of 322 mph in cruise. It was characterized in a Marine Corps new release as "twice as fast" as the CH-46E and capable of carrying "three times as much" over "four times the distance." In 2000, two Osprey crashes killed 23 people and grounded the aircraft, leading to redesigns that became a new version of the aircraft cleared for deployment in 2005. Now, the Marine Corps says the aircraft experiences mishaps resulting in death, permanent injury or damage greater than $2 million 1.48 times per 100,000 hours of flying. The Corps says that's similar to the CH-46. In combat, the Osprey earned two of its pilots the Distinguished Flying Cross for action that took place in Afghanistan in 2012.

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