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Analysis

Fraud has delayed the V-22

From all appearances, testing of the V-22 Osprey has gone well in recent months, but its troubled history has been expensive and delayed its development for years. A federal fraud trial in upcoming months promises to unravel the details behind one of those costly delays when the Marines grounded the entire V-22 Osprey fleet for 10 days in 2003.

Two Michigan men who worked for a military supplier that federal prosecutors say provided faulty hydraulic titanium tubing for Bell-Boeing's tilt-rotor aircraft face an array of federal charges. They are expected to be tried in Detroit (the case was transferred this week from Philadelphia), but a date has not yet been set.

Andrew Maliszewski, 53, and his brother Alan, 41, were indicted in June on charges related to falsifying the testing of the tubing. The two men worked for the now defunct Dearborn Heights-based Anco-Tech from 1994-2000.

“Tests were skipped, protocols were ignored, inspection procedures were not followed, documentation was either incomplete or falsified, and all of this was not only tolerated but sanctioned and condoned by the company,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan said in a news release.

The V-22 fleet was grounded in March 2003 while Bell-Boeing removed and replaced all the tubing supplied by Anco-Tech.

Federal investigators say a two-year probe of the company concluded that the faulty tubing did not contribute to a December 2000 crash that killed 23 Marines. The Marines said the crash that grounded the V-22 fleet afterward for more than a year was caused by a hydraulics failure caused by the rupture of a line.

“An independent expert retained by the Department of Justice did not find any notable flaws or defects in the tubing that would have caused the rupture at issue, and that the rupture was most likely due to external forces unrelated to the condition of the tubing,” the press release said. “Thus, there is no evidence that the defendants' conduct was a factor in the crash, and the indictment does not allege that their conduct caused or contributed to the crash.”

Andrew Maliszewski's attorney, Allen Wolf of Lake Orion, Michigan, said his client did nothing wrong. “He appears to be a scapegoat for the government in light of the many problems that the V-22 has had,” Wolf told the Detroit News.