Congress, Contractor Helped Rescue Helicopter

Congress, Contractor Helped Rescue Helicopter

The U.S. Air Force’s new combat rescue helicopter was saved from the budget ax by a “competitive” bid from a lone bidder and support from lawmakers, the service’s No. 2 civilian said.

Air Force Undersecretary Eric Fanning on Tuesday acknowledged the service’s belated decision to fund the program to develop a replacement for the HH-60G Pave Hawk into next year. Maj. Gen. Jim Martin broke the news during a budget briefing last week — hours after the Pentagon released documents stating the effort would be delayed two years due to spending cuts.

Congress only recently approved $334 million for the program in the current fiscal year, Fanning said. The funding, combined with a lower-than-expected bid from United Technologies Corp.‘s Sikorsky Aircraft — the sole company to seek the contract — convinced the new Air Force secretary, Deborah Lee James, to proceed with development, he said.


“This was a tough call,” Fanning said during a breakfast with reporters in Washington, D.C. “What tipped, I think, things in favor of moving forward with the Combat Rescue Helicopter this year was certainly a very strong bid from Sikorsky — bidding in what they thought was a more competitive environment than what it was. And so in the interest of spending taxpayers’ dollars as wisely as possible, that weighed heavily on us.”

Potential competitors such as Northrop Grumman Corp. and Airbus Group reportedly opted out of the possible $7 billion program after determining it wouldn’t be profitable enough.

“And then Congress weighed in,” Fanning added. “Those members of Congress who were in support of re-capitalizing and re-capitalizing now were trying to do everything they could to make it easier for the Air Force to make that decision.”

Ultimately, the secretary determined “now was the time to do it, with the extra money that Congress had found us and with this very competitive bid that came in well under our cap.” Fanning said.

The HH-60G is the Air Force’s version of the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk, modified for search-and-rescue missions in any kind of weather condition. There are roughly 100 of the aircraft, which entered service in the early 1980s, according to an Air Force fact sheet.

The undersecretary didn’t discuss why the Air Force can’t use existing platforms such as a V-22 Osprey or a new or upgraded Pave Hawk for such missions.

While he acknowledged the Air Force’s decision came “very late,” Fanning also pushed back against suggestions it was made at the last-minute — when an aide reportedly slipped a note to Maj. Gen. Martin during the briefing.

At the time, Martin announced, “Breaking news, we have made a decision to fund the CRH,” according to a transcript of the event. When asked when the decision was made, he replied, “It was made today.”

Fanning said Martin knew of the decision before the briefing. “I think that note was, ‘You’re now allowed to talk about it,’ as opposed to ‘We’ve made the decision,’” the undersecretary said.

Fanning said the department’s top weapons buyer, Frank Kendall, still has to authorize the program to enter the technology development phase known as Milestone B. “It won’t be long before we’re able to announce what that schedule is,” he said. “But it’s not finalized right now.”

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You know times are tough when you get a Sikorsky “15% off your next purchase of 100 Black Hawks” coupon in a cereal box.

Anyway is this bid some new variant of the H-60 family, or something different?

Will C1: ” decision to fund the program to develop a replacement for the HH-60G Pave Hawk into next year” sounds like Sikorsky has “caught” a contract for R & D, and production for a new bird. I’m bettin’ the engineering & design is done in CT & is produced in Sikorsky’s facility in FLA where they’re going to build the Sea Stallion replacement. Their CT operation just laid off 300 in January of this year. It will be interesting…

Typical corrupt deal with money stolen from ongoing war funds.

Another article said it would be based off of the HH-60M that’s been entering service in the medevac units. Good choice on their part

I bet I know how the conversation went between the contractor and the DoD program guys on this one. “Hey, we need a really big lie on this proposal. Come in below $300 million and we’ll help you get well later in the program.”

Given DoD’s abysmal history of cost overruns on aircraft development programs, I’m not placated by some likely low-ball estimate submitted by a contractor looking for business. There was no mention of a government-provided estimate, so it probably wasn’t done, much less a business case analysis showing that this new development program was the most cost effective acquisition approach to meeting the need of a replacement platform.
How does the Air Force get away with completely disregarding existing acquisition policy? It’s absolutely mind-boggling, unless we accept the logical conclusion that it’s aided by Pentagon and congressional support. This is our government at work, and it’s rediculous.

The last time the USAF tried a real competition for a SAR helicopter, they ended up with the HH-47. That was a huge and expensive Chinook derivative which was too big and slow for most of its intended missions. If this deal is for a modified H-60 and can be fast-tracked, it is probably in the best interest of everyone.

Not supposed to be its going to be another Blackhawk of some type.

Its going to be a Blackhawk that replaced another Blackhawk. No real BIG news here i’am curious to see what improvements this version will have over the current HH-60G though.

The only thing the current fleet lacks, aside from integrated systems, is power at altitude and room. In that regard I think that an up engined S-92 would have been a better choice.

Most of the current HH-60 Fleet has approx. 10,000 flight hours. The SOS folks have been talking to Sikorsky for a couple of years about what they would like to see in this platform. We’ll see if AF and Sikorsky have the best interest of the crews in mind.

this is a CIA/NSA Project, it is obvious because the bypass due to a no comp. bid, only the CIA/NSA have a cash reserve to supersede normal contracts

300 salary. Hourly work force hasn’t been touched yet.

I think the USAF has simply realized that they’re going to need lots of advanced rescue helicopters to pick up all those F-35A pilots after they’ve been shot down.

Seems a bit revisionist by Fanning. I recall news articles that all potential bidders, except Sikorsky, publically pulling out at least 45–60 days before the proposals were due citing selection criteria that were aligned specifically to favor a Black Hawk. So to say that Sikorsky submitted a bid in a “competitive environment” is factually not true.

Another example of duplicate spending. Why does the Airforce need any Combat Rescue Helicopters? Who are they rescuing??

The Army Combat Rescue and Evacuation mission is carried out by Army Medical Evacuation crews, named “DUSTOFF.”

Air Force pilots, on the rare chance they get shot down.

Only in the current U.S. could this situation exist. If Congress’ kids were active pilots in the Military the idea not to fund it would never have come up. Loser liberals..

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