ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AP) - After a troubled history, the V-22
Osprey tiltrotor aircraft has been ferrying troops and equipment
across Iraq for just over a year without a major incident.
The half-helicopter, half-airplane was designed to replace
transport helicopters. Critics say it lacks firepower for defense
in heavy combat. But pilots say the Osprey makes up for that in
speed, which one of them says can take the plane "like a bat out
of hell" to altitudes safe from small-arms fire.
Since arriving at this sprawling desert base in western Iraq, a
dozen Ospreys have been ferrying troops and equipment at forward
operating bases. One even took around Barack Obama during his tour
of Iraq earlier this year.
But on only a handful of occasions has the aircraft faced any
serious enemy fire.
The aircraft undergoes final assembly in Amarillo from
components made in Fort Worth and suburban Philadelphia.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)