Best Defense

Thoughts on the V-22 crash in Morocco

I know the V-22 has posted a pretty good record, but I keep on thinking of what a Pentagon official once said to me: No one has ever built a helicopter with jet-engine-like hydraulic pressures (5,000 ppsi) inside its nacelles — and then landed that aircraft in dusty spots where jet engines fear to go. ...

Wikimedia
Wikimedia

I know the V-22 has posted a pretty good record, but I keep on thinking of what a Pentagon official once said to me: No one has ever built a helicopter with jet-engine-like hydraulic pressures (5,000 ppsi) inside its nacelles — and then landed that aircraft in dusty spots where jet engines fear to go. He said that one little bit of dust inside the nacelle could weaken the hydraulic tubing, which if it sprang a leak would shoot fluid so powerfully that it could cut off a man’s arm.

When I was a military reporter, this was the only aircraft I promised my wife I’d never fly in.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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