More Helicopter Musical Chairs

Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin announced Thursday that they have joined forces to compete to build the Air Force’s next combat search and rescue helicopter. They intend to offer an advanced version of Sikorsky’s UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter to replace the service’s aging HH-60G Pave Hawks under USAF’s forthcoming recapitalization program. Sikorsky will be the prime contractor; Lockheed will supply the major subsystems. The Air Force would like to field the first of these new rescue helicopters in 2015. The last time the Air Force tried to replace its Pave Hawks under the now-defunct CSAR-X program, Lockheed offered its US101 helicopter, based on an AgustaWestland design, against Sikorsky’s HH-92 and Boeing’s HH-47. In June, Boeing acquired the rights to the 101 from AgustaWestland. Already Boeing has proposed the 101 as the Navy’s next Presidential helicopter. Maybe the Boeing 101 will also be a Pave Hawk replacement option.