U.S. Marines waiting to board a landing V-22 Osprey.
The jury is still out on the $71 million Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, even after decades in action.
Promotional material for the multi-task aircraft says it combines "the speed of the plane and the hovering ability of a helicopter," bringing "more capabilities to the mission than any other aircraft on the market."
The Marines love it for its versatility and are under contract to buy 360 of them, and the Air Force and Navy are buying around 50 each, according to Defense Tech, but the Army considers it too expensive. It does cost three times as much as a Black Hawk helicopter.
Development of the V-22 originated with the Department of Defense's Joint Service take-off/landing Experimental aircraft in 1981. Bell Helicopter and Boeing Aircraft were awarded a joint development contract to produce the tiltrotor aircraft.
The V-22's first flight was in 1989. It has since been deployed by the Marines in 2007 and the Air Force in 2009 in both combat and rescue operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Libya.
It is not without critics. The first model from the 1990s and early 2000s was rushed to the field and suffered from worrying accidents including fatal crashes. A redesigned version of the Osprey was released in response, and the safety record has much improved since 2001 despite a certain stigma sticking with the aircraft.
Below are promotional photos of the V-22 Osprey released by Bell Helicopter and the U.S. Marine Corps.
V-22 Osprey's can carry up to 24 combat troops, 20,000 pounds of internal cargo, or 15,000 pounds of external cargo.
Pfc. Kasey Peacock/U.S. Marine Corps
The unique propellers of the Osprey allows the craft to hover like a helicopter ...
Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos/U.S. Marine Corps
... or fly at altitudes and speeds that normally only turboprop planes can reach.
These unique wings allow for the Osprey to take off and land vertically, allowing them to launch from areas without the need for a runway.
The Osprey's design allows it to effectively take part in search and rescue, logistics support, and assault due to its hybrid design.
V-22s also have the option of being outfitted with an M240 machine gun (pictured), a 7.62 mm Gatling gun, or belly mounted turret guns.
Currently, the Marines are slated to purchase 360 MV-22s, the Navy will purchase 48 MV-22s, and the Air Force will receive 50 CV-22 variants.
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