Reversing Course on CRH

Just days after giving the strong impression that the Combat Rescue Helicopter was out of the Fiscal 2015 budget request, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James put it back in. The service also announced Tuesday the contract will be awarded no later than the end of June. Last week, at a Bloomberg budget conference, James said, “It’s a question of: can we afford it, can we afford it now versus later, is it better to do upgrades or buy new,” adding that a decision hadn’t been made, but that “we will have to rack and stack” the CRH with “other priorities.” However, late Tuesday, USAF issued a statement saying it will award the contract to Sikorsky, after realigning “$430 million from other Air Force priorities” between Fiscal 2014 and Fiscal 2019. This plan “effectively uses the $334 million Congress appropriated for the program,” James said in the statement. In order to award the contract, the program must pass a review by the Defense Acquisition Board as well as “independent cost assessments.” Sikorsky, a division of United Technologies, must also extend its price guarantees through June. In her statement, James said, “this mission is part of the military ethos, and the Air Force is committed to providing it.” There had been talk of USAF handing the mission off to Special Operations Command.