Jun 29, 2014
USAF Awards Sikorsky, Lockheed CSAR Helicopter Contract
The deal for 112 Sikorsky Black Hawks, outfitted with Lockheed mission equipment, brings to a close a more than decade-long Air Force quest to purchase a replacement for its HH-60G combat search-and-rescue helicopters. The Sikorsky-Lockheed team was the only bidder in the competition.
The program had been star-crossed. Over a more than 15-year period, the Air Force unsuccessfully tried to acquire new machines to replace battle-worn HH-60G Pave Hawks. A 2006 deal to buy Boeing Chinooks fell apart due to mistakes made when the Air Force evaluated bids.
Since then, the program was delayed, mainly due to internal Pentagon squabbling. Air Force officials debated the mission requirements and whether the effort should be combined with a separate Air Force helicopter program. Air Force Special Operations Command tried to take over the mission from Air Combat Command, while other services questioned the need for the entire combat search-and-rescue mission.
When all of those issues were finally put to bed, the one-time No. 2 Air Force acquisition priority completely fell off the list. By 2013, the Air Force budget had tightened and sequestration hit the Pentagon.