The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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Michael Bay and Dick Cheney - BFF?

September 22nd, 2007 · 1 Comment · Movies, Rants, Technology

They HAVE to be. Just look at the Transformers movie.

But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.

Meet the V-22 Osprey:

She’s a funny-looking bird - a hybrid of a helicopter and a prop plane meant to replace the Vietnam-era CH-46 as a troop transport and general service lifter-of-things. Fans of hot-hot military hardware probably noticed that the V-22 Osprey was finally released into the wild this week. The military claims the V-22 is three times faster than the CH-46, with greater range and overall lift capacity.

Sounds like a pretty sweet upgrade, right?

Well, maybe not.

The Osprey’s 20+ year journey to the battlefield has been a troubled and controversial one. Granted a development budget of $2.5 billion in 1986, costs swelled to $30 billion by 1988. At which point, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney attempted to use his Sith Lord powers to - I shit you not - magically zero out the first two year’s costs and simply “reboot” the project. Congress, apparently possessing some manner of balls AND oversight capability in those days, overruled Cheney’s “new math.”

As development continued, the V-22 proved… difficult. In 1992, during a demonstration for Congress at Quantico, a leaking gearbox caused a fire that subsequently dropped the ship into the Potomac - killing all seven crew members on board. In 2000, during a test flight in Arizona, the V-22 stalled in mid-air, flipped over, crashed and exploded - killing all nineteen crew members on board. Later that year in North Carolina, ANOTHER V-22 malfunctioned - this time due to the ship’s software - sending it plummeting 1600 feet to the forest below, killing all four crew members on board.

Understandably, pilots became skittish about the prospect of switching to the V-22, with many preferring the old, reliable CH-46 with its 30+ year history of not flipping over, stalling, exploding or otherwise randomly falling out of the sky. And for years, there was a general sense that it might never see actual combat readiness.

That was, of course, prior to this past week, when the Marine Corps introduced the V-22, bravely adding one more thing that can potentially go wrong and kill a bunch of people to the war effort in Iraq.

But close observers of this summer’s blockbuster action films weren’t surprised by this at all. After all, the Marines in Michael Bay’s Transformers were zipping around in them MONTHS ahead of the real world. Here we see a pair of them transporting the heroic band of multi-ethnic warriors back to base (in what we’re told is “QATAR - THE MIDDLE EAST - PRESENT DAY”):

Bay was, of course, given access to all SORTS of sexy, dangerous toys for his impressive romp through my childhood memories. And now we know why. He was out and about pimping the action-hero value we taxpayers are getting from the V-22, three months ahead of its actual release.

And so, I am torn. On the one hand, it looks like we’re shoe-horning a wasteful, Cheney-sponsored, absurdly dangerous plane into Iraq, potentially placing our servicemen and women in harms way. On the OTHER hand, Transformers was AWESOME and by placing the V-22 in his film Michael Bay got access to - let’s face it - some sweet, sweet hardware to add an extra layer of awesome to the proceedings.

Truly, one of the great quandaries of our time.


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Ralf // Sep 24, 2007 at 6:37 am

    I read or saw something once that explained if making a movie that’s going to show the military in a favorable light, they will let you borrow all kinds of stuff. If not, then not.

    Apocalypse Now=asking Phillipino dictator if you could maybe please borrow one or two old cargo helicopters, which he then frequently calls away without notice in the middle of the shoot.

    Top Gun=Would you like an aircraft carrier?

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