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U.S. Marine Corps chastised for poor V-22 maintenance records

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Errors in the maintenance paperwork used to track readiness of the U.S. Marine Corps V-22 aircraft were so numerous between 2008 and 2011 they could have led officers to deploy squadrons that were unprepared for their missions, investigators reported on Friday.

The Defense Department inspector general said an audit of maintenance records for six squadrons of the vertical lift V-22 Osprey between October 1, 2008, and September 30, 2011, found that maintenance workers improperly completed work orders 112 of 907 times and improperly recorded status data 167 of 200 times.

In addition, squadron operations personnel reported incomplete or inaccurate equipment condition information three-quarters of the time and inaccurate category data 48 percent of the time.

"As a result, the MCRs (mission capability rates) were unreliable and senior DoD (Defense Department) and Marine Corps officials could have deployed (Marine) V-22 squadrons that were not prepared for missions," a summary of the classified audit said.

The inspector general's report recommended that Marine commanders require V-22 squadrons to track and report on the accuracy of their work orders and inventory reports, and to certify the accuracy of their readiness reports.

The criticism of poor V-22 maintenance records comes as the vertical take-off and landing aircraft is struggling to overcome a reputation for safety problems it received during development, including the deaths of 23 Marines in flight testing in 2000.

The aircraft, which is built jointly by Boeing and Bell Helicopter, has gotten good reviews from Marine commanders for performance in combat. But its reputation for accidents, including a training crash in Morocco last year that killed two Marines, has fueled resistance to its deployment in Okinawa.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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