Huey Replacement Decision Coming Soon

A decision on how to replace the Vietnam-era UH-1N Huey helicopters that protect ICBM fields is “a couple of weeks away,” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. “I would expect within the next couple of weeks, our acquisition executive in the Air Force, who is currently looking at acquisition strategies, will come to a conclusion and make a recommendation,” James said, noting that the service is looking at sole source and competitive opportunities. “I think it’s urgent, you think it’s urgent,” James said, in response to a question from Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.). Wednesday afternoon, Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the military deputy in the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, told a HASC subcommittee that replacement of the helicopters had been delayed because of the Budget Control Act, but it cannot be delayed any longer. The Fiscal 2017 budget requests $14.1 million in development and $18.3 million in procurement funds, he said. The Air Force in February 2015 included an item in budget rollout materials indicating that the service had already decided to buy Army UH-60A Black Hawks and convert them to UH-60Ls to replace the Hueys. However, that information was incorrect and was later updated in the Air Force’s version of the budget book, a spokeswoman said. (Bunch prepared testimony.) (See also Nuke Field Vigilance from the August 2012 issue of Air Force Magazine.)