USAF Still Deciding What it Wants in New Choppers

USAF Still Deciding What it Wants in New Choppers

Air Force officials are still making up their minds as to whether the service will move to buy an existing chopper or a new one to replace the service’s ageing UH-1N Huey utility helicopters and HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search and rescue choppers.

“We’re still working through the requirements” on the replacement aircraft for those choppers, said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley during a breakfast with reporters in Washington this morning. “We’re trying to craft requirements and acquisition strategy that will get the best value for the war fighter and taxpayer, at the same time. We have yet to come to resolution on that requirement; it’s getting lots of intense attention at senior levels of the Air Force.”

He went on to describe the tension that exists between the need for modern, high-performance choppers and keeping costs down.

“We’re trying to find that sweet spot between off-the-shelf existing vertical lift capabilities that are out there and war fighter requirements and, again, the issue is getting the best deal that we can and combining these” factors, said Donley.

When asked if the service has decided to base its helicopter-replacement contest on buying an off-the-shelf chopper, Donley replied, “We’re not there yet.”

Last year, reports surfaced that the Air Force wanted to simply buy number of UH-60 Blackhawks from the Army to quickly replace the 90 or so UH-1N that are used to patrol missile fields, perform some search and rescue missions and ferry VIPs around Washington. Air Force leadership has since stated that competition will almost certainly be involved in replacing the Hueys.

The service is also moving ahead with a program replace its heavily used HH-60 rescue helos starting in the middle of the next decade. This comes after the debacle that was the CSAR-X effort which sought to replace the Pave Hawks with a brand new rescue bird that far exceeded the capabilities of the HH-60. That effort became mired in protests and was ultimately cancelled by defense secretary Robert Gates.


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How much does USAF think they’ll save by competing this, risking protests and delays, versus going with UH-60s from existing Army contracts? Are they implying that the Army is over-paying for the most recent batch of Black Hawks? The article notes the “debacle” that was CSAR-X; recall also that other “debacle”: the replacement for Marine One.

Just buy the d*** things from Sikorsky before or risk “Tanker, The Movie Part II”.

Text excerpt: “We’re trying to find that sweet spot between off-the-shelf existing vertical lift capabilities that are out there and war fighter requirements”

Global market… nix, nyet, rien de rien, nada, nichts, 沒有 ?

The solution is so easy upgrade or buy new UH-1Y Venom Hueys from the USMC it can do security for ICBM bases easily.

“He went on to describe the tension that exists between the need for modern, high-performance choppers and keeping costs down.”

Thats funny. What is the need for a modern, high performance helo to do those missions? Hard to believe that they even need a replacement.

We have concluded that only a new, modified Osprey can provide “site security” and coffee runs to remote ICBM sites in the CONUS…

With all the different type/models flying around the world today doing these exact missions, just how hard can it really be to pick one?

BA609 sounds perfect for that mission.

The USMC’s UH-1Y can do anything that the Air Force requires, General !
There! And that came from a retired enlisted man…
Now, put in your retirement paperwork, General; but, please, please, please, don’t take a military contracting job.

Aurora — Econ 101, competition for the tanker resulted in a MUCH lower cost Tanker to the taxpayer.

Trival to everyone.…. except the taxpayer.

Lots of talk about the UH-1Y.…… too bad they cost as much as a UH-60.… Between $21-23M per UH-1Y according to the DoD budget.

Does that sound like a good deal for for the money?

Why do they need a combat aircraft to fly over sites in the middle of ranches and farms in the U.S ? They have been doing it in an unarmed Huey for more than 30 years without incident.

Sounds like another “gold plated” requirement born out of some exagerated DoD study report

Haven’t you heard? They need new equipment on board like the Blue Thunder for riot control for the up-coming civil war here in your back yard. The big contract companies need more money for there life-style and security. Who cares if your a tax-payer with low wages. Got to make America strong again and more pay for Gov of Politics who’s running this country. LOL

Seriously have anybody actually perform maintenance on Black Hawks? A slightest scratch on the rotor systems calls for replacement, lot of man hours and cost compare to a Huey. Everything on Black Hawks have a small amount on small limits of tolerance and also zero tolerance un-like the Huey has more on tolerance on there equipment.

Does the USAF have 10+ years to wait for a Huey replacement?

I have decades of maintenance experience with ‘Hawks and you sir are wrong in your assesment.

The USAF has long range CV-22s for special ops and so will choose a short range helicopter for CSAR to go pick up the survivors from the next CV-22 crash.

At least with NGB stalled they won’t have to reach too far to rescue F-22 and F-35 pilots.

I don’t think so buddy, you need to look up all the Air Force Helicopters maintenance books and see for yourself on the criteria on blemishes on all.

Don.t forget to check the tolerance also.

When the las t 60 goes to the boneyard, the crew will fly home on a Huey!

Amen brother.
When the last 60 goes to the boneyard, the crew will fly home on a Huey!

Go with the upgraded Huey 2 for now. The Air Force can never seem to make a procurement without a 10 year delay, so they’ll need something. (ex — KC, HH, AT )

We have further concluded that only a tri or quad-tiltroter that is Stealthy will satisfy the mission requirement of delivering toilet paper, newspapers, VIP’s, and SF personnel to the silos.

With all the millions of blade hours logged during the GWOT by the 4 out of the 5 services that employ the ‘Hawk as a basis for our disagreement I can find no evidence what so ever for your claim that the aircraft is fragile.

A simple youtube search reveals dozens of videos showing H-60 types in action all across the globe performing feats that demonstrate the durability of the airframe.
http://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​b​R​y​Q​0​a​R​A​A​s​o​&​a​m​p​;fe… USA
http://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​r​W​a​e​h​y​J​b​0​p​g​&​a​m​p​;fe… USAF
http://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​P​Q​L​n​m​d​O​t​hmA USCG
http://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​S​F​I​L​O​D​P​7​I​F​U​&​a​m​p​;fe… USN

With the knowledge that at any given time somewhere in the world there is a ‘Hawk flying into conditions that would somehow exceed the “narrow” tolerances of a “fragile” aircraft there can be only two possible conclusions: That there is an international conspiracy to somehow cover-up the incredible amount of maintenance being performed on H-60s by invisible elves working after hours to repair all the damage done in flight or maybe the H-60 is a much tougher airframe than you realize.

With every 3 hours of flt. time on the 60’s require two hours of inspection in a day. For Huey verse 9 hrs a day of flt. time and require 1 hr.. of inspection. never said anything about the G.B. that is already known for and never said fragile, Rotor head system/flt controls inspection criteria. The Army just put there last B model Huey to rest recently, what does that tell you?

You know, I like the Boeing CH-47 Chinook, and question if it can be made into one hell of gun platform weapon system, meaning can it be equipped with a twin 1.1″/75 caliber gun with a serious muzzle brake and recoil compensator system?

Can you see one of these babies firing ground pounding rounds, or air bursting ammunition? And lets not forget about having AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, or the AGM-65 Maverick missile capability.

Fire All Cannons!!!

The rotor system on theH-60 is a little more complex than an H-1 I believe. I’ve been maintaining helos for 13 yrs on 3 different platforms and all of them have close to zero tolerance or zero tolerance with regards to dynamic components.

Funny, because the Army was able to have a competition, award a contract ‚and take deliverery of the first UH-72 all within 12 months.….…the CVLSP and LUH (Lakota) aircraft have similar mission sets so why CAN’T the USAF do it again in less than 10 years???

Actually Gen. Kowalski answered that question yesterday before congress. His answer verified CVLSP contained “gold plated” requirements.….

Little Spoofing here !!!!!!!

As for the HUEY being “one tough bird”, I would bet that most of us that reply to this blog rode many a mission in Vietnam in a Huey where half the rotors could be shot away and still got us home. It also true that the President flies a special H60 when on the road. So what is wrong with either bird. Again check what general is working for which contractor.

One of the requirements of this study is to carry ” important VIPs ” around Washington DC because their time is so valuable. I say let em ride a taxi/public transportation like the rest of us. They already have their own parking lot at the DC airports — cost free, free parking at the office, so they could drive as well like the rest of us to. Oh yea — If the USAF thinks they will take over for Marine One with a new fancy bird they better submit their retirement papers now. Maybe time for most anyway.

With all the money thrown around they could build rapid rail from Andrews to the White House and rehab Oxon Hill at the same time. No need for fancy helicopters for anyone. I like this idea.….….….

Charlie-You need to check your homework a bit. The mission is not VIP transport. It’s COG/COOP which is all contingency basis lift. So your statemant relating it to Marine One is nonsense.

Bell UH-1Y
Sikorsky UH-60M
EADS North America UH-72A
Agusta-Westland AW149

Any other likely contenders besides for these? Personally I think Bell and Sikorsky should offer their proposals and the better offer taken. The UH-72A is probably too light for USAF needs and the AW149 is still in development and has no commonality with other US military helicopters.

Will– Isn’t that enough? You only need two for a competition.

In this case it should be enough. But everybody fears protests these days.

HH-65 perhaps?

Something along the lines of the V-22 should be considered. Flies faster, higher, longer, more survivable.

Protests only work if there is a process foul. LUH seemed to do everyithing the right way, and was able to have a competion and take first deliveries within 12 months. Why can’t the USAF do the same? Nobody can seems to be able to answer that.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK, instead of just reading an article, but it does beg the question of why the USAF WANTS a combat aircraft for an inoquous mission? YES the UH-60 is a combat aircraft which makes it more expensive.

Hopefully you aren’t a budget PolicyWonk.….. The V-22 is only about $75M a copy which is only 10x more expensive than UH-1N’s they would be replacing.

It’s really not that serious bro, just thought maybe you missed that part of the article.

Agusta-Westland NA has announced their nominee will be the AW139M–a military version of their AW139. The helo has been used in multi-mission roles by 135 customers in 50 countries … more than 350 AW139s flying today.

I thought the AW149 was the military variant of the AW139?

For SAR give them the UH60 — for security they can easily use a Robinson turbine helo with a m134 pod mounted (kind of a mini blackbird) and purchase a large number of them with all the bells and whistles for the cost of 1 huey or blachawk. if they feel they need more than that for a security helo then they may as well by apaches and be done with it, transporting personnel to and from sites can be done with an off the shelf jet ranger which could also be outfitted with door guns or a pod gun. Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) should be enforced for this plan.

The only way they will get a one bird for all jobs (as stupid as one plane for all jobs) is to cross breed a 53 with a Cobra or AC130 while figuring out how to make it faster.

I think EADS would be better off offering the EC155(basically an enlarged Dauphin). And, Agusta-Westland offering the AW139

it actually was a gun platform

yeah — they were probibly watching a rerun when they came up with all these requirements. maybe they can put JATO packs on a 53 to get the speed they need or NITROUS OXIDE (wouldnt put it past them to suggest why not?)

No, the AW149 is essentially an enlarged version of the AW139.

Really? Let’s see if I can remember some of the inspections on the Hawk: Preflight, 50 hour, 150, 300 and 600 hour phase inspection. Never have performed a 2 hour inspection after 3 hours of flight There are torque check requirements in the 1–3 flight hour time frame. All the systems on the Hawk, dynamic or not have have tolerances/limits that are flexible, even the rotor blades. The gear boxes you’ve referred to can even make metal (to a certain point) and still be safe to fly. For advanced as the Hawk is compared to the Huey, it is still a forgiving aircraft. I’ve been working on the USAF Hawks since they were babies and still have a few years to go before I’ll retire.

Hardly. Far too small.

I think he was referring to averaged flight hours versus averaged maintenance inspection hours, not literal two-hour inspections for literal three-hour flights.

But even then, that’s a numbers game: you can play with all sorts of various statistics and leave out a few statistics to skew the final numbers for your own personal agenda. In this case, he may be including intermediate-level and depot-level maintenance with the maintenance inspection hours figure.

Really? How so if I may ask?

Secretary Michael Donley needs to be FIRED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Between F-22, JSF a “Bomber” now a new Helicopter.… Hummm.… he must be paying his Taxes!!! Mike Resign now, make the US Happy. Go to work for the Integrators where you belong. BTW: How much are the Integrators paying you under the Table to go after these platforms???? Save your funding and Give it to the Marines. Go Wall Street, Go Integrators… Great Job of Marketing.

Thank you Trophy, my opinion i felt did not need to explain myself in long detail. I have work 5 different platforms with-in my 40 year career and retired. in the late 60’s and early 70’s the USAF decided to down size by closing Detachments of Rescue units in stateside bedside’s out of countries. Also consolidating commands together with former jet-jocks at commanding positions. They were juggling around the Rescue Units and did not know where to put them under and to include the needs and money portion for equipment in Rescue. My opinion they want the UH-1N for a special reason for up-coming events. What ? If the Lawerance Livermore Lab security needed 50cal’s mounted on there Humvee for riot control? The only thing that i seen for conclusion was nothing on all USAF Rescue Units for a Rescue platform. Maybe need to remove the props on the CV-22 and put Rolls Royce jet-engines instead for higher altitude for hovering for pick-up.

That “unarmed” Huey carries a squad of moderately armed (and slightly bored) security troops. Although they don’t have (or need) a turreted weapons station on the “Tundra Taxi”, I wouldn’t consider them to be unarmed.

Well it is important to note that the Venom is not … I repeat.. not a Huey… It may look like a Huey but its Rotor/Yoke/Blade assembly is composites and not metal. Not sure how this effects the overall maintenance or capabilities. But its not our Huey of old… though Im a huge proponent of it :)


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