New York Times reports that the V-22 Osprey is finally heading into combat in Iraq in September 2007. The $80 million apiece aircraft twice as fast, three-times the payload as the dual-blade CH-46 helicopters they replace, but less maneuverable than helicopters at the slow speeds needed to deploy troops on the ground and takeoff. The higher speeds, however, arguably make the aircraft much better at speeding the wounded back to friendly forces and quicker care, as well as increasing the possibility of surprise infantry attacks “from above.”
There are of course the criticisms that the aircraft can get caught in its own turbulence as it lands, which could cause a fatal crash. NYT has a video detailing some of these criticisms here.
Marines get 360 of the Ospreys, the Air Force gets 50, and the Navy gets 48.