Among the victims of Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ program killing spree Monday was the Air Force’s combat search and rescue aircraft (dubbed CSAR-X), the planned replacement for the elderly HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter. The CSAR-X program has had until now a “troubled acquisition history,” Gates said during his press conference. He said, too, that there is a “fundamental question of whether this important mission can only be accomplished by yet another single-service solution, with a single-purpose aircraft.” Gates said DOD would take another look at the requirements behind the program and develop a more “sustainable approach” on a reboot of the effort. The relook would determine whether there is a requirement for a “specialized” CSAR aircraft or whether it should be a “joint capability,” he said. Before Gates’ announcement, the Air Force was poised to award the CSAR-X contract later this year, believing that it had resolved the issues that had derailed the original source-selection in November 2006. Gates comments echo the criticisms of outgoing DOD weapons czar John Young, who said last fall that he wouldn’t just “automatically rubber stamp” the CSAR-X requirement. (For more on Young’s questioning the CSAR-X requirement, read The John Young View.)
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.