The Air Force has started the search for a platform to replace its HH-60G rescue helicopters by issuing a notice seeking industry input on suitable platforms. Gone is the name CSAR-X for this notional successor platform; the new name is “personnel recovery recapitalization” aircraft. The service would like to issue the first production contract in Fiscal 2012, enabling it to have four trainer assets and four combat-ready aircraft in the fleet no later than Sept. 30, 2015, according to the March 23 notice. Meeting that fielding date “at an affordable cost is critical,” states the document. Among the attributes, this platform must be capable of sustaining 130 knots true air speed and have an unrefueled combat mission radius of 220 nautical miles. Earlier this month, the Air Force leadership told Congress that the new platform would likely be based on a mature off-the-shelf design.
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.