GAO: Osprey may not meet challenges of Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (AP) _ After more than 20 years of development and $27 billion in taxpayer money, a military plane that can take off and land like a helicopter may not meet the challenges of high-threat missions like Afghanistan. That's what government auditors said today.

The medium-size, tilt-rotor Osprey -- jointly built by Boeing Co. and Textron Inc.'s Bell Helicopter -- already has been plagued by two deadly test crashes and a history of mechanical failures.

Now, auditors say the aircraft's design limits its maneuverability, ability to operate in extreme temperatures, and overall performance in threatening environments.

A Government Accountability Office review of the Osprey's operations in Iraq says the aircraft had difficulties operating from Navy ships and carrying the required number of troops and cargo during tests and training exercises.

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. George Trautman, deputy commandment for aviation, disputed the GAO's assessment, saying the plane will operate just as effectively in Afghanistan as it has in Iraq.

Bell Helicopter is based in Fort Worth, Texas.