The two competitors left out in the cold on the Combat Search and Rescue aircraft replacement program have decided to protest the Air Force decision to award the CSAR-X contract—potentially worth up to $15 billion—to Boeing. Sikorsky hoped to sell the Air Force an advanced version of its Hawk helicopter—the H-92 Superhawk—to replace the service’s fleet of Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawks. It filed its protest with the Government Accountability Office on Nov. 17. The Lockheed Martin-Agusta Westland team, which had high hopes for its new US101 aircraft since the Marine Corps tapped it to replace the Presidential helicopters, filed a CSAR-X protest on Nov. 20. Air Force leaders already have defended their selection, saying that Boeing could deliver its product sooner than the other two competitors. The GAO has until late February to render a decision in both cases.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.