V-22 Osprey makes inaugural rescue in Libya

After two U.S. pilots had to eject from their F-15E Strike Eagle fighter over Libya today, the U.S. Marines rescued one using a V-22 Osprey — the first time the massive tilt-rotor craft has been used in a combat rescue.

The F-15E crashed while enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya; U.S. officials have said the jet crashed due to mechanical problems. While the pilot was brought by U.S. Marines aboard the USS Kearsarge, the weapons system officer was rescued by rebels before being returned to U.S. forces.

The Osprey, which costs $100 million a copy, has long been the target of budget cutters in Washington, but has survived due to a large base of support from lawmakers representing states where its components are built.