The Air Force plans to award Sikorsky Aircraft Company a contract for a new combat rescue helicopter in the second quarter of Fiscal 2014, said USAF spokeswoman Erika Yepsen in a statement released Nov. 22. “In response to our competitive combat rescue helicopter solicitation, we received one proposal. That offer, from Sikorsky Aircraft Company, has provided an acceptable technical solution and we intend to award a contract based upon budget availability,” said Yepsen. However, she also noted the contract is “contingent on the outcome of the President’s budget review process.” The announcement comes roughly one week after Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning said it would be “very difficult” to make such an award given the lack of funding for new start programs. Air Force spokesman Ed Gulick said the CRH technically is not a new start because it already appeared in the President’s Fiscal 2012 budget request. Sikorsky spokesman Frans Jurgens said the company is “encouraged” the program “appears to be moving forward.” He added, “Sikorsky and partner Lockheed Martin are ready to begin building a very affordable new-generation rescue capability based on the proven H-60M Black Hawk platform.” The CRH will replace the aging HH-60G Pave Hawks, flown heavily in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Americans’ trust and confidence in the U.S. military has declined precipitously in recent months, according to the results of a survey. Experts lay the blame on increasing political polarization and the fallout from this summer’s turbulent withdrawal from Afghanistan.