Air Transportation: January 28, 2001


Despite, or perhaps because of, the problems with getting the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft into production, the US Marines have decided to refurbish their aging helicopter fleet. The marines cannot afford new helicopters. So they will begin overhauling their CF-53E heavy lift choppers to like new condition. This will cost $21 million per helicopter. To buy new helicopters would cost four times as much. The army, navy and air force have also seen the future, and it's a refurb world. This is especially true with helicopters, and all the services are investing heavily in rebuilding what they have rather than trying to pry money out of Congress for spiffy, and very expensive, new designs. So the problems with the V-22 may have a silver lining. It's dangerous (all those crashes during testing), embarrassing (all those crashes again) and expensive to buy new high performance during peacetime. But rebuilding old stuff saves you money and garners some good press in the bargain. 


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