The Air Force is looking to buy up to 84 new helicopters to replace the UH-1N fleet that protects ICBM fields, according to a recent announcement. The service wants off-the-shelf replacements that could start being delivered less than a year after the contract is expected to be awarded in Fiscal 2018, according to the request for information. In May, the service said there will be a “full and open competition” to replace the Huey fleet even though Defense Secretary Ash Carter testified in April there was an urgent need for replacements. That same month lawmakers urged the Pentagon to detail its plan to protect the nuclear forces at Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; Minot AFB, N.D.; and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., until the replacement fleet is ready. The service hopes the RFI—including a set of questions for industry partners that have access to a draft requirements document—will help clarify contractors’ capabilities, assess the acquisition strategy, reduce program risk, and foster a competitive environment. An industry day that will include one-on-one sessions with contractors will be held Sept. 27-28 at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.