Rotary-winged Breakthrough

The Air Force wants to do in Fiscal 2009 what it hasn’t been able to do in past budgets: include funding for the future helicopter that will replace its Vietnam War-era Huey UH-1Ns. USAF has sought for years to retire these Hueys, which help protect the nation’s ICBM fields, shuttle VIPs, and perform civil rescue missions, with a new more capable helicopter provisionally called the Common Vertical Lift Support Platform. But it hasn’t had the money to do so, given the long list of more pressing recapitalization and modernization needs—can anyone say, “new tanker,” or “new CSAR helicopter?” Now, however, CVLSP appears to be emerging out of the shadows, as USAF seeks $3.87 million to start the CVLSP program in Fiscal 2009 and lay the groundwork for fielding the platform in Fiscal 2015. Granted the amount is truly miniscule by Pentagon standards, and the Air Force has yet to earmark the kind of money that would make the mid-decade fielding goal doable, but, hey, at least it’s a start. (For more read USAF’s ‘Other’ Helicopter Program)