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Osprey aircraft deployed for first time in support of Marine One

Posted:

 CNN's Greg Clary

(CNN) -- Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys, aircraft that take off vertically, provided a dramatic new look for President Barack Obama's travel detail as he and the first lady began a Martha's Vineyard vacation on Saturday.

The Ospreys -- making their presidential debut -- shuttled White House staff, media and Secret Service members from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod.

The sleek tilt-rotor aircraft can take off like a helicopter but fly like an airplane.

The Marines say the Ospreys are twice as fast, can travel six times farther and are capable of carrying three times the weight of the Vietnam-era CH-46E helicopters which have supported missions involving the president.

There are no plans yet to have the president fly in the MV-22s.

The Osprey has raised some safety concerns over the years. It earned the unceremonious nickname "the Widowmaker" after crashes during initial development and testing.

In late 2000, the Corps grounded the fleet after two crashes, one in Arizona killing four crew members and 15 passengers and another in North Carolina that killed the crew.

But engineers redesigned the craft for improved safety and the Marines have used them extensively in Afghanistan.

Plans to build a new fleet of helicopters to be used as Marine One have hit multiple budgetary snags over the years. Obama canceled plans for a new fleet back in 2009 after projected costs soared to $11 billion.

CNN's Larry Shaughnessy contributed to this report

The-CNN-Wire
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