CAGW ISSUES SPENDING CUT OF THE WEEK: USMC’s V-22 OSPREY | Citizens Against Government Waste


Press Release

For Immediate Release:

April 7, 2011
Contact::Leslie Paige 202.467.5334

Luke Gelber 202.467.5305


(Washington, D.C.) –Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) issued its weekly spending cut alert aimed at the United States Marine Corps’ V-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft designed to fly as fast as a turboprop airplane while retaining the ability to take off and land vertically.  Between 1993 and 2007, taxpayers spent $22 billion on the V-22; 30 Marines lost their lives due to equipment malfunctions, all before the aircraft ever entered combat. 

Richard Whittle’s book “The Dream Machine” called the project a “poster child for what’s wrong with the defense acquisition system.”  Despite numerous attempts to kill the aircraft, including one by then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in 1989, the project kept getting funded.  Politicians and lobbyists from Texas and Pennsylvania, where the aircraft is produced by Bell Helicopter and Boeing, respectively, formed the Tiltrotor Technology Coalition in 1990, and by 2008 the Department of Defense had approved a $10.8 billion procurement program. 

The V-22 has repeatedly proven itself to be dangerous and expensive while failing to meet the performance objectives set out in the original project.  It was designed to be an assault aircraft, but has been used almost exclusively for transport, and its ability to fly aggressively under duress has not been proven.  A 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report stated that the V-22 “can complete missions assigned in low-threat environments,” but that “challenges may limit its ability to accomplish the full repertoire of missions of the legacy helicopters it is replacing.”  In other words, despite operations and support costs that have been estimated at $75 billion for the completion of the program, the V-22 is in some ways worse than its predecessors.  The GAO concluded that “alternatives should be re-considered.” 

“Marines receive roughly 5 percent of the country’s defense budget and are an integral part of nearly all combat and aid missions,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz.  “However, the V-22 project is among the most egregious illustrations of the Defense Department’s inefficient procurement process, which on average results in research and development cost overruns of 42 percent and 22 month delays, according to a GAO report from March of 2009.  As Congress wages fiscal war over a few billion dollars in cuts to $3.8 trillion budget, these albatrosses – at $122 million apiece – should be scrapped.”

The V-22 Osprey has been included since 2005 in CAGW’s Prime Cuts database, a compendium of 763 waste-cutting recommendations that would save taxpayers $350 billion in the first year and $2.2 trillion over five years.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.  The Spending Cut of the Week calls attention to a federal program that is wasteful or duplicative.

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