Despite persistent criticisms, soaring costs and a troubled past, a dozen V-22 Osprey helicopters have been operating safely in Iraq for more than a year -- and winning praise from the Marines who fly them. "I used to fly the CH-46 and we couldn't do nearly what we do now in terms of weight, cargo, distance or speed," says Lt. Col. Christopher Seymour, noting that the tilt-rotor Osprey can fly twice as fast and cruise much higher than its predecessor. Another Osprey pilot, however, says the aircraft has not yet been used in daytime missions to Baghdad or other hot spots. "We have not been battle-tested because we aren't going guns blazing into hot zones," says Maj. Paul Kopacz. "Our nation is now too sensitive to the loss of soldiers to let that happen."

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