Boeing officials told defense reporters in Orlando that they’ve been a bit puzzled over some of the chatter regarding the HH-47 CSAR win—Clinton Horn, Boeing’s director of business development for its defense programs, said the new CSAR aircraft is a souped-up version of US Special Operations Command’s MH-47G Chinook variant and should not be treated as a “heavy lift tandem-rotor” helicopter. The Chinook, after all, has more combat experience than the “other bidders have flying hours,” Horn noted. The program will be ramping up its capabilities in Block 10 in 2009, including a completely new rotor system, said Rick Lemaster, Boeing HH-47 program director. Rotor work is ongoing at the company’s Ridley Park, Pa. facility and will focus on improving the lift, speed, and range of the aircraft. “We want to get a better, more responsive aircraft,” Lemaster said.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.