CSAR-X Do-Over

The Air Force’s top civilian acquisition official confirmed Thursday that the service is seeking another go-around for the troubled combat search and rescue helicopter replacement program. Sue Payton told Pentagon reporters that calls are being made to the original bidders and to Congress to ensure everyone understands where the program stands now. Payton said USAF hopes to post a draft version of “amendment five” to the original request for proposals by Oct. 20 and a final version by early November. The door is open now, unlike the last makeover when USAF limited contractor proposals. Payton said, “It’s a full and open input on anything they would like to propose.” She wants to have contractor proposals in hand before Christmas. However, Payton emphasized, “We are not going to rush to an award.” She plans to have more feedback sessions than in the original competition, and there will be some new people involved in the source selection process (see below). Although Payton would like to award the CSAR-X contract in early spring, she said it would depend on what the bidders bring to the table—new designs or platform improvements. Payton acknowledged that a 2014 initial operational capability date now is more likely than the original 2012 date.