Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, commander of 20th Air Force, told House legislators that appropriators who cut a new helicopter from his budget are worsening a bad situation. “These are 1960s, 1970s helicopters,” he told a House Armed Services panel Thursday of his fleet of UH-1s. “They don’t meet DOD requirements for payload, capacity, and range,” and they can’t get where they’re going at the requisite speed, especially if a missile silo was under attack. “Any delay” in replacing the helos that support the nuclear mission “is a real danger” to security forces being able to perform their mission, he said. He also noted that 20th AF needs a new ground vehicle because the Humvee is ill-suited to the mission. It travels on US roads, “has no anti-lock brakes,” and at idle can’t keep passengers warm when a North Dakota winter throws “minus 40 degrees” at the crew, Weinstein said.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.