The Air Force on Tuesday pounded another nail in the coffin of its now-cancelled CSAR-X program, by “terminating for convenience” its $712 million contract with Boeing from 2006 for the system development and demonstration phase of the HH-47 rescue helicopter. “This contract termination is a result of the CSAR-X program cancellation directed by the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics,” the Air Force wrote in its brief statement, which appeared in the June 2 list of new Pentagon contracts. Why the need for this step, if the CSAR-X program is already history? Well, Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Karen Platt told the Daily Report yesterday that, technically speaking, the stop-work order from Nov. 22, 2006, had still been in effect for the contract that Boeing received from the Air Force for HH-47 work on Nov. 9, 2006, when it won the original CSAR-X competition over Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky. That stop-work order was never lifted as the CSAR-X program remained bogged down in legal protests and the Air Force’s efforts to resolve them up until Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ April 6 announcement that he was killing the program. But just because the original CSAR-X contract is now officially toast doesn’t mean that the need for a new rescue platform has gone away, and the Air Force leadership is working to convince Defense Secretary Robert Gates that a new USAF rescue bird would not be a single-service platform for an inherently joint mission, as Gates maintains.
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.