The combat search and rescue helicopter replacement program is shaping up into yet another pitched battle for a hunkered down Air Force. Still recovering from having much of its acquisition authority stripped over the aborted Boeing tanker lease deal and assorted other program problems, it would appear USAF may have stubbed its acquisition toe once more, this time in choosing the Boeing HH-47 for the CSAR-X when it would seem the Boeing helo simply didn’t match up to warfighter requirements. At least that’s the substance of a Reuters news service article that essentially says USAF ignored its own analysis of alternatives. It also seems to be the view being taken by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the man who almost single-handedly brought down the tanker lease and whose office currently is examining Air Force CSAR-X documents. However, there’s been no hue and cry from combatant commanders, said to favor a medium-lift helicopter, over selection of the heavy-lift Boeing helo. Don’t forget, DOD acquisition boss Ken Krieg admitted that in the CSAR-X discussion schedule trumped capability.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.