27 January, 2016 BY: James Drew Washington DCUS air force’s Combat Rescue Helicopter programme is on track to complete a preliminary design review in April that will unlock funds for five more aircraft.Programme officials from the service and Sikorsky say that during 2015 the two sides came to an agreement on more than 1,000 design requirements and 3,000 subsystem specifications through the government’s “system requirements review” process.Sikorsky’s $1.3 billion CRH contract awarded in June 2014 included funding for four initial engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) aircraft, and if it completes the air vehicle design review, the company can expect more funding for five system demonstration test article (SDTA) aircraft – bringing the total order to nine, of an eventual 112 rescue helicopters.After assembling its suppliers and completing much of the design in 2015, Sikorsky says it is confident of capturing incentives in the contract by completing development in 69 months, six months ahead of schedule.
The Air Force wanted, and should have gotten, a minor variation of the Army’s MH-47G special operations variant of the CH-47F Chinook. But no… after the contract competition, the other bidders protested to the GAO, and the contract was voided.
Mind you, that contest cost money. Billions of dollars have been spent. And not one airframe was bought. But a decade was lost while CSAR assets are aging. The HH-60G was a fine helicopter- back in 1983. The “Whiskey” will likely be a pretty good helicopter. Except that it isn’t what the Air Force wants. It’s slower and has a much shorter range than any Chinook variant, and has less payload. Granted, most of the time, CSAR is only picking up one or two people. But the larger payload of a Chinook would allow more self defense options.
Now if the Air Force can just find a replacement for the UH-1N in the missile security team role.