Marine Corps deploys Ospreys for first time in support of presidential flight

The Marine Corps on Saturday said MV-22 Ospreys were deployed for the first time in support of a presidential flight aboard Marine One. 

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Marine Helicopter Squadron One, the military unit responsible for transporting President Obama and top administration officials, said in a statement that the premiere combat aircraft carried White House staff members, reporters and Secret Service agents during a flight to Martha’s Vineyard.

The aircraft, built by Bell-Boeing, is designed to take off and land like a helicopter and fly like a fixed-wing plane.

Marine Helicopter Squadron One, based in Quantico, Va., is transitioning from CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, which date back to the Vietnam Era, to the MV-22s.

The squadron will complete its transition to the Ospreys during the next 12 months.

The Osprey's early days were plagued by mechanical failures and accidents, including a crash in April, 2000, that killed 19 Marines..

The Marine Corps cleared the Osprey fleet last August after an investigation into a fatal crash in North Africa that killed two Marines.

"The aircraft did not suffer from any mechanical or material failures,” service officials said at the time, adding “there were no issues with the safety of the aircraft."

The addition of the Osprey to the White House is the first attempt to revamp the White House fleet since a failed effort to upgrade the Marine One helicopter with a newer aircraft.

The Pentagon had selected Lockheed Martin's VH-71 to replace the aging VH-3D helicopters that made up the entire presidential transport fleet.

In 2009, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates suspended the program due to excessive development delays and cost overruns on the program.

The Navy canceled the effort months later.

--Carlo Munoz contributed to this report.

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