Officials instead went with Bell-Boeing's MV-22 Osprey. The versatile tiltrotor is able to perform carrier delivery missions and has also been looked at for search and rescue and special forces missions. An added plus is that it can land on a variety of ships. So it is not only able to perform the role of the COD but also bring people and equipment to amphibious assault ships, transport docks and other Navy ships.
Asked about the decision at a Jan. 15 public appearance, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus declined to comment on the memo, saying only that the "possible use" of the V-22 for COD missions was a good example of saving money by using a tested airframe rather than developing a new one.
The tiltrotor aircraft, which has seen extensive combat action in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been dogged by negative publicity dating to its earliest days, when separate crashes claimed the lives of dozens of Marines. More recently, safety concerns arose in Japan, where civilians and some politicians protested the Marine Corps' intent to fly Ospreys over densely populated parts of Okinawa. Japan has since decided to acquire its own fleet of Ospreys.
A classified 2013 report by the Defense Department Inspector General's Office also raised concerns about the way Osprey readiness was recorded. A summary of findings found that commanders in five of six squadrons used erroneous aircraft inventory reports and work orders from fiscal 2009 through fiscal 2011. Squadron commanders also submitted incomplete or inaccurate readiness reports.
"As a result, the [mission capability rates] were unreliable, and senior DoD and Marine Corps officials could have deployed MV-22 squadrons that were not prepared for missions," the summary said.
Still, Navy officials have looked favorably on the Osprey in recent years. Instead of 35 Greyhounds, any Navy Osprey could fly a COD mission — and switch between carrier logistics at sea and moving people and cargo ashore. There also would be a single training and maintenance pipeline.