Wait And See

Before the Air Force recapitalizes its fleet of HH-60 Pave Hawk rescue helicopters, it is backfilling the current fleet to account for combat losses and heavy operations in Southwest Asia. The Air Force is purchasing new-build Sikorsky H-60M airframes under the “operational loss replacement” program, and has accepted two of them already. But service officials have not resolved yet how they will modify the helicopters into the Pave Hawk configuration, although they are currently scheduled to enter initial operations in Fiscal 2015, Tim Healy, Sikorsky’s director of Air Force programs, told reporters Wednesday. Sikorsky delivered the first two H-60Ms in February, and USAF is slated to accept the next two this month. Overall, the program, as currently structured, calls for 24 OLR helos, with 16 to follow in Fiscal 2012 and four more the next year. Healy said he was “not aware” of any USAF decision on how to carry out final modifications—including integration of a refueling boom, auxiliary tanks, and weapons mounts. When asked, he said Sikorsky is “ready to help” carry out the modifications, but the Air Force has not communicated its acquisition strategy to the company. (See also Pave Hawks Join 10K Club.)