After some positive press in the past week, when the Marine Corps praised the tiltrotor's performance so far in Iraq, the week ended on a down note when an MV-22 was forced to land near Greenville, NC, after a panel fell off an engine nacelle. No damage was done and the aircraft returned home to MCAS New River the next day.
Meanwhile, the Marines' first progress report since the Osprey deployed to Al Anbar province in October makes clear most of the Thunder Chickens' 1,400-plus sorties and 2,000-plus flight hours in theatre have been "battlefield circulation" and "governance" missions - in other words transporting officers, Iraqi leaders and others around the area of operations. Not surprisingly, the tiltrotor's speed is appreciated by its passengers.
Only recently have the MV-22s begun roving aeroscout missions to hunt for insurgents and the tiltrotors had taken part in one pre-planned raid by the end of January. So, for now, the Osprey gets a passing grade.