Forget the Crepe Myrtles

The Air Force has pushed back the date of announcing the winner of its CSAR-X combat rescue helicopter recapitalization contest by at least several months to around October, according to various press reports. The Air Force issued the draft version of amendment 6 to the CSAR-X request for proposals April 11 to account for new laws effective in 2008 that restrict the use of imported specialty metals. The final version of this amendment is expected before the end of the month. Industry responses to amendment 6 are due on May 22, according to the draft RFP. Sue Payton, Air Force acquisition executive, had maintained that she wanted to name the winner of the multi-billion program this year while the crepe myrtles were in bloom in the Washington, D.C., area, which originally was interpreted as meaning in the spring or summer. That goal seems unlikely now. The CSAR-X program has been embroiled in litigation since November 2006, when the Air Force crowned Boeing’s HH-47 the winner over Lockheed Martin’s US101 and Sikorsky’s HH-92. The Air Force wants a new helicopter to replace its aging fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue birds. Two rounds of successful legal protests by Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky with the Government Accountability Office over the Air Force’s evaluation method have delayed the program’s progress.