A senior Marine general said for the first time Wednesday that the service may consider buying fewer V-22 Ospreys than planned and instead add more helicopters to its aircraft fleet.
The Marines have long held they need to buy a minimum of 360 V-22s, built by Bell Helicopter and Boeing, to replace their aging fleet of Vietnam-era transport helicopters, and were not interested in buying less-costly helicopters instead.
But in a conference call with defense reporters, Lt. Gen. George Trautman III, deputy commandant for aviation, eased away from that position when asked about defense think tank recommendations that the Marines should buy helicopters as well as V-22s.
"I don't think this is an urgent question, but we're prepared to discuss it going forward," Trautman said.
The Marines were the only service whose prized weapons programs escaped largely unscathed from the major defense budget overhauls that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has proposed. Those measures will be in the budget the Obama administration is expected to release Thursday.
But Gates let it be known recently he also plans to challenge the Marines to better justify some of their costly future weapons buying plans.
Read more at Star-Telegram.com