26 Apr 02. Flight tests of the V22 Osprey, grounded for more than a year after three fatal crashes killed 26 marines, is scheduled to resume early next month, the Marine Corps said.
The Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, Edward Aldridge, concurred in the decision at a meeting of acquisition chiefs on Thursday, a Defense Department spokesman, Glenn Flood, said. The experimental aircraft is intended to replace Vietnam-era troop transport helicopters.
Flight testing will resume at the Patuxent River Naval Air station in Maryland.
“We expect it to be earlier in the month rather than later in the month,” said Captain David Nevers, a Marine Corps spokesman. The Marine Corps hopes to buy 360 of the aircraft, designed to take off and land like a helicopter, but tilt its rotors forward to cruise at the speed of an airplane.
Each is projected to cost $60 to $80m, a price that could rise because of redesign and additional testing. The Air Force Special Operations Command plans to buy another 50 and the Navy may buy 48.