Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, head of Air Force Global Strike Command, anticipates that the Air Force will field a fleet of around 60 Common Vertical Lift Support Platform helicopters to supplant its Vietnam War-era UH-1N Hueys. Beyond that, Office of the Secretary of Defense officials are still hashing some of the platform’s specific capabilities, he told reporters during a meeting last week at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. Like today’s Hueys, CVLSP will help protect the nation’s ICBM fields and perform ancillary missions like civil search and rescue and VIP and utility transport. Range, speed, and payload requirements are generally understood, and there will be some level of defensive countermeasures on the new helicopter, said Kowalski. But whether CVLSP will have an organic weapon is not settled. If there is a team of trained security forces airmen aboard responding to a security situation, then having the platform armed would be a “marginal” capability improvement, said Kowalski. However, putting light weapons on CVLSP is not a deal breaker as far as requirements go. “That’s not a decision that has to be made before these things start rolling down the line,” he noted.
These are the complete remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Dec. 3, 2022, in Simi Valley, Calif.