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..

THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS

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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