Sources in the Pentagon tell us that some members of the Marine Corps and the Special Operations community are very surprised that the Air Force's new tanker of choice may not refuel the V-22 Osprey.
Although the ability to refuel the V-22 (which the Air Force also owns) was part of Key Performance Parameter (KPP) #1 for Aerial Refueling, the EADS tanker is said to have no ability to refuel this revolutionary tilt rotor aircraft.
Specifically the Air Force briefing slides on Key System Requirements Comparison on Aerial Refueling issues are reported to state:
"Boeing can refuel all current USAF tanker compatible Tilt Rotor Aircraft
-Benefit: Provides the V-22 fleet additional refueling options while tanker maneuvering throughout entire flight envelope vs no tilt rotor refueling for NG"
The NG above stands for Northrop Grumman, EADS's American tanker partner.
To understand why this is so shocking you need to know that the V-22 was built to address may of the lessons learned from the Iranian hostage rescue debacle which required the on ground refueling of helicopters at a site the military labeled as Desert One.
In this operation America lost eight of its bravest men, seven helicopters, and a C-130 in the chaos of a remote Iranian refueling/staging area and did not even made contact with the enemy.
The Osprey - with its superior range, speed and ability to refuel in the air - was built specifically to allow forces to move directly to the objective area and not require the type of risky staging areas that proved disastrous at Desert One.
If it is true that the Air Force picked a tanker that can not refuel the V-22, this decision is astonishing to say the least.
PS - You think Murtha was mad before? When the Retired Marine Colonel hears it can't refuel the Corps latest bird, look out!