Though there’s talk of expanding the reach of rescue forces by buying tilt-rotor CV-22s for the mission, the focus needs to be on buying the Combat Rescue Helicopter first, Air Combat Command chief Gen. Hawk Carlisle said on June 1. He told reporters after an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast that the “minimum” requirement is 112 CRHs. “We have to get to that amount,” said Carlisle. If it was an issue of trading away some CRHs for CV-22s, “I could not see” doing that, he said. Only if “there was additional [total obligational authority] down the line” would ACC be interested in possibly adding CV-22s to the rescue mix. In a Q&A after the speech, Carlisle said the CV-22 might be a good add, especially in regions like Africa, given its long range. “But there are limitations,” such as the aircraft’s “survivability in a threat environment.” Still, ACC is “looking hard” at a CRH/CV-22 combination and “where a mixed fleet might work.” A driving issue would be capacity, he said, noting there have to be enough CRHs to go around before more expensive CV-22 are purchased for the same mission. With the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan, the “demand for [pararescue] guys has not gone down at all. In fact, it’s gone up,” Carlisle noted. (See also Rescue’s Future from the June issue of Air Force Magazine.) (For more from Carlisle’s speech, see also Airpower Success in Iraq and F-35 Number Probably Good.)
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.