The Fight for Combat Rescue

Hopes are dim the Air Force will award a contract for a new combat search and rescue helicopter before the end of the year, or anytime soon for that matter, Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning said Monday. “It will be very difficult” to make such an award, given the lack of funds available for new starts, said Fanning at an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast event in Arlington, Va. CSAR is “still a mission” for the Air Force with a lot of support, but it has been heatedly argued. “I’ve never seen a more emotional debate among the Air Force four-stars than when it came to the…search and rescue mission,” Fanning said. Even “if we can’t fund that new helicopter in a near year, [that] doesn’t mean we’ll walk away from the mission,” he added, but “there’s also some debate about where that [mission] should be in the Air Force.” It’s still being hashed out whether CSAR should remain with Air Combat Command or fall under Air Force Special Operations Command. “What we asked is for the two of them to come back to us and make a POM ’16 decision,” he noted.