The Air Force has been looking “for about the last six months” at operational concepts for combat search and rescue that include both the future Combat Rescue Helicopter and the CV-22 Osprey, said Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh on Wednesday. Speaking at a Defense One event in Washington, D.C., Welsh said “it depends on the scenario” which aircraft is a better fit for the mission. Getting into a small clearing or mountainside outcrop speaks for the CRH, while the CV-22 is a better solution “if you’re trying to go a long distance,” such as in Africa or the Pacific, he said. “It can get there and back faster,” giving the wounded a better chance at survival, said Welsh. Marine Corps MV-22s picked up a downed F-15E pilot during NATO’s air campaign in Libya in 2011. This is the type of scenario “where it would be nice to have that available to the rescue force,” said Welsh of the CV-22. “The question is, Can we have both? And if the answer is, ‘yes.’ Why wouldn’t we want it? We’ll look, we’ll see,” he explained. Pararescue jumpers “probably don’t care,” said Welsh, “as long as you configure the back end [of the aircraft] to treat the people they’re saving.”
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.