Best Defense

The decline and fall of Marine aviation

We can argue about what caused it.

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We can argue about what caused it. (I think that sticking with the V-22 Osprey after the Army quit the program bankrupted Marine aviation acquisition and is still killing the Corps’ O&M budget.)

But it appears there is no question that Marine aviation is in a bad way. An article in the May issue of Marine Corps Gazette says that in January, of 147 Ch-53Es in the USMC inventory, there was an average of 31 ready to fly. And, depending on who you ask, the V-22 costs somewhere between $10,000 and $70,000 an hour to fly. (I defer to @MarkThompson_DC on such rotary questions.)

Photo credit: U.S. Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

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

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