Rescue Helicopter Modernization

Plans for the Air Force to field a fleet of combat search and rescue helicopters to replace its aging HH-60G Pave Hawk fleet are beginning to solidify in the wake of last year’s cancellation of the CSAR-X program. In addition to procuring 15 Army new-build UH-60s between Fiscal 2010 and Fiscal 2012 and converting them to the Pave Hawk configuration to replace the fleet’s combat losses since 9/11, the Air Force has earmarked $1.5 billion in its future years defense plan from Fiscal 2011 to Fiscal 2015 to recapitalize the rescue helicopter fleet, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told House lawmakers March 10. This amount would cover the buy of the first 36 of those new airframes. “What we have agreement on is to recapitalize those HH-60 aircraft . . . essentially with an off-the-shelf kind of capability” as opposed to a more sophisticated design, he said.