It crashed four times in development, killing 30 crew and passengers. An unexplained crash during a combat mission in Afghanistan last year claimed four more lives. Despite its lethal reputation, in April the controversial V-22 Osprey tiltrotor got a high-profile new assignment: hauling cargo for the president’s entourage, starting in 2013.
Now that mission has expanded, and the Osprey will haul the entourage itself. A July solicitation by Marine Corps asks for a company to supply VIP kits for four Ospreys. The kits include a liner to disguise the cabin’s pipes and wires, softer seats and a carpet bearing the squadron logo for the aircraft’s ramp.
Some observers see the VIP mods as a baby step towards putting the president himself in the $100-million dollar aircraft, dubbed the “Dream Machine” by one fawning writer. After an expensive false start, the Pentagon wants to buy a new fleet of presidential transports starting in 2017; the V-22 is officially a candidate.