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WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps’ MV-22 Osprey might be getting more firepower.

The aircraft, which is currently making its combat-zone debut in Iraq, has the ability to hover like a helicopter and fly like a fixed-wing aircraft. It is meant to replace CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, the Corps’ aging workhorse.

Ospreys come equipped with a gun at the ramp in the rear of the aircraft, but they might also get a gun with a 360-degree field of fire, said Marine Lt. Gen. John G. Castellaw.

“One of the options would be to install within what we call the ‘hell-hole’ — but that, that’s where the cargo hook is — a gun in there that would have the ability to shoot 360,” said Castellaw, deputy commandant for programs and resources.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Castellaw said the Osprey has significant advantages over the Sea Knight, most notably its speed and ability to climb rapidly, which means it requires less in the way of defensive systems.

“I told you I’m a -46 pilot; you know, the reason, the main reason I got .50 cals that are on either side (of the CH-46) is when I go into the zone, because I’m so slow and my acceleration rate is just a little bit better than a Volkswagen, then I want something that’s going to keep their heads down until I get enough speed and get away from there,” he said.

Not only can Ospreys get out of the path of the bullet quicker, but they are also built to take hits, Castellaw said.

Another advantage Ospreys have over Sea Knights is they can carry troops at 13,000 feet, which is out of range of most anti-aircraft artillery and missiles, he said.

Asked how well the Osprey is performing in Iraq, Castellaw said the aircraft is performing well, but he did not elaborate.

“It means it does well,” he said. “It does the mission that it was sent to do. It carries troops, it carries things, it goes where it needs to go, and it does it with a readiness rate that it allows it to sustain those operations.”


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