Thursday, October 25, 2012

RFP for Combat Rescue Helicopter

Earlier this week, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition announced the posting of an RFP (request for proposal) for Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) to the Federal Business Opportunities website – a move that has been reported as signaling the official launch of this high priority Air Force acquisition program.

This program will replace the Air Force's aging HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter fleet with new air vehicles, training systems, and product support elements as required for the personnel-recovery mission. The average age of our current fleet is about 22 years and about 5,000 flying hours.  The missions of this air vehicle include the recovery of personnel from hostile or denied territory; the executing humanitarian missions, civil search and rescue, disaster relief, casualty and medical evacuation, and non-combatant evacuation operations.

Photo courtesy of
The Air Force doesn't just use its resources to serve combat missions, it also uses them to serve mankind in any type of recovery, rescue and humanitarian missions are   is our solemn, moral obligation to rescue downed or stranded personnel of all services. And for years, we have advocated for the recapitalization of this fleet, that has been nearing the end of its service life and lacks the survivability, operational utility, range and payload required for today’s combat operations.

The RFP defines an integrated, capability-based, best-value approach. It also includes specific factors for assessing the capabilities and risks inherent in each offer and identifies four goal requirements: hover performance, combat radius, payload and cabin space. The CRH requirement is for 112 aircraft.

In the mid to late 2000s, we went down this road, but eventually saw the then-called CSAR-X program terminated after a troubling acquisition history. (CSAR, meaning combat search and rescue) [Read more about the cancellation in a 2009 piece by the Air Force Magazine.]

But personnel recovery is not an ad hoc mission. It is engrained in the mission of the Air Force. We hope priority remains on this acquisition program and that we are able to complete the program this time around.

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