Washington — The Pentagon's inspector general has seized data from computers of two Marine generals as part of an investigation into an alleged cover-up of problems with the V-22 Osprey aircraft, The Washington Post reported Friday.
The Osprey is a prototype aircraft that takes off like a helicopter, but flies like a plane.
The investigation, which began in January, was initiated after allegations that a lieutenant colonel falsified maintenance records on the planes. Investigators are now looking into whether the colonel was pressured by superiors to hide the shortcomings of the Osprey.
Inspector General Robert Lieberman recently took data from the computer hard drives of Lt. Gen. Fred McCorkle, the head of Marine aviation, and McCorkle's assistant, Brig. Gen. James Amos, the Post said, quoting several Marines and a Pentagon official, who were not identified.
"It's all about the e-mail trail, as part of the search to figure out what's there," the newspaper quoted a Marine officer it said was familiar with the Osprey program.
In a late October meeting with the Osprey squadron, one Marine general urged subordinates to "figure out how to manage and minimize the impact" of a recordkeeping system that had shown the aircraft were often grounded or available only for limited flights, according to notes on the meeting obtained by the Post.
The Marine Corps has defended the tilt-rotor aircraft against critics who charge that it is too expensive and is unreliable. The Corps wants to buy 360 Ospreys at a total cost of $40 billion.
The Osprey has been involved in three crashes since 1992, that killed 26 Marines and four civilians.