New Video of Plane Crashes; $63 Million Plane 0 for 49 in Tests

Members of Congress watched videos today of what they got for $63 million spent on an experimental aircraft the military did not want: repeated crashes and significant failures.

Video: Watch Congress' $63 Million Investment Crash

The plane, designed to take off like a helicopter and then fly at high speed, failed to remain in the air for more than a few seconds in 49 separate tests last year, according to John Kinzer of the Office of Naval Research.

"None of these attempts resulted in controlled hover for more than a few seconds," Kinzer told members of the House Committee on Science and Technology.

Photos: See the Aircraft That Can't Fly

See the San Diego Union Tribune Cartoon

The videos played for Congress today show the plane's prototype lifting off and then crashing within a second or two.

"The good news is that when it crashes, it only crashed from a foot or two off the ground," said subcommittee Chairman Brad Miller, D-N.C..


Kinzer told Congress the Navy had no plans to extend the testing when current funds run out at the end of the year, even though Congress has appropriated another $6 million.

Since 1986, Pentagon analysts have consistently rejected the aircraft design as "technically flawed," but Congress has continued to pour money into the project.

Congressman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., has led the effort on behalf of a hometown company, DuPont Aerospace.

In testimony today, Hunter said he considered the investment "prudent from a financial and risk perspective."

"One would be hard pressed to argue that a technology that could deliver greater speed and greater stealth capabilities has no military utility and is not worth some investment," Hunter said.

Hunter has received at least $36,000 in campaign contributions from the owner of the company, Anthony DuPont. Both men deny the contributions are connected to Hunter's continued support for the aircraft project.

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