Two of the nation’s most expensive combat aircraft, the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor, is being used to ferry President Barack Obama’s staff, luggage, pet dog and journalists to the president’s vacation retreat in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.
The aircraft costs more than $10,000 per hour to operate, and is being used even while the president steps up his complaints about curbs on federal spending.
“During today’s flight to Martha’s Vineyard the MV-22‘s carried members of the White House Staff, the Media, and the Secret Service, and MV-22’s will fill the same role during future Presidential lifts,” said an Saturday report from the press pool.
A photographer snapped a picture of the president’s dog, Bo, being unloaded from one of the combat aircraft.
The expensive trips are being made as Obama steps up his campaign-style complaints about the bipartisan sequester budget curbs, which are helping to trim the growth of federal spending.
The MV-22 costs more than $10,000 per hour to operate because it was combines the high speed of aircraft with the vertical landing capability of a helicopter. The aircraft’s unique design allows it carry twenty U.S. Marines into combat at high speeds, over long distances and through enemy air defenses.
The expensive capabilities are proving their worth in Afghanistan, where the aircraft are being used successfully to surprise and kill Al Qaeda-allied Taliban jihadis hiding in the country’s high mountains.
But the MV-22’s summertime trips from Washington to Martha’s Vinyard do not involve mountains, snow, gunfire or assault-landings.
The MV-22’s operating costs are roughly twice as expensive as a the Marine’s traditional helicopters, such as the CH-46.
The costs are also much higher than the operating costs of much larger commercial aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 that is normally used to fly people from Washington to Boston-area airports.
The V-22s are gradually replacing the CH-46 helicopters long used to help move presidential staff and luggage.
Obama has complained about the sequester spending-cuts in several recent speeches.
“Hardworking folks are getting furloughed, families getting by on less, fewer ships available for your training exercises, the commissary your families rely on closed a day a week,” he declared in a campaign-style Aug. 7 speech delivered to U.S. Marines.
“We can do better than that. That’s not how a great nation should be treating its military and military families,” Obama declared.
To protest the sequester, Obama also shut down tours of the White House.
“Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House tours will be cancelled effective Saturday, March 9th, 2013,until further notice,” says a recorded statement by the White House’s visitors office.
“We very much regret having to take this action,” the recording adds.