The Air Force’s two top leaders believe the service should get on with the combat search and rescue helicopter replacement program, but they hesitate to ignore last week’s Government Accountability Office decision. Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne told a House panel on Feb. 28, the GAO has found “a technical application” that could be construed “pretty narrowly;” however, he wants to ensure there is “a level playing field.” When asked bluntly whether the HH-47 is the “correct aircraft” for the CSAR-X mission, Wynne replied, “I think it has every chance of continuing to be selected.” Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley maintained that it is critical to field a new CSAR helicopter in place of the “limited” HH-60. He believes the HH-47 Chinook variant is a “fine airplane” being flown by Army and Special Operations Forces in “some very, very dangerous places right now.” Moseley said: “My concern is now we’ve got yet another delay. I want to field this mission.”
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.