Fleet To Consist Of 93 Aircraft Across Major Commands
Air Force officials on Monday announced their strategy to
recapitalize the Air Force's helicopter fleet, which is critical to
nuclear weapon security response, continuity of government, and
combat search and rescue. The Air Force secretary and chief of
staff have directed that the service proceed with full and open
competition for both the Common Vertical Lift Support Platform
program and the HH-60 recapitalization program. These two programs
will hold separate competitions using their respective capability
development documents approved by the joint requirements oversight
council to meet the warfighter requirements.
"The Air Force ultimately benefits from competition and allows
industry to fully play in these acquisition programs," said Maj.
Gen. Randal D. Fullhart, the global reach programs capability
director. "We anticipate, based on market research and industry
response to requests for information, that a derivative of
helicopters already in production will be able to meet warfighter
requirements." The CVLSP program fills identified capability gaps
while replacing the current Air Force UH-1N Huey fleet, in which
service officials noted deficiencies in carrying capacity, speed,
range, endurance and survivability, General Fullhart said.
The fleet will consist of 93 aircraft spread among Air Force
Global Strike Command, the Air Force District of Washington and
other major commands, he added. "For CVLSP we're anticipating a
summer 2011 draft request for proposal release and the final RFP
early fall," General Fullhart said. "We're proceeding toward an
initial operating capability for common vertical lift support
platform program in 2015."
HH-60 recapitalization, officials said, is the Air Force's
program to replace the 112 aging HH-60G Pave Hawks. The HH-60G is
used primarily to conduct combat search and rescue, but is also
used for emergency aero-medical evacuation, homeland security,
humanitarian relief, international aid, non-combatant evacuation
operations and special operations forces support.
Air Force leaders noted that the current fleet is heavily
tasked, with the Operation Enduring Freedom flying tempo being
twice the standard utilization rate, and aircraft availability
projected to be less than 50 percent by 2015. The anticipated
request for proposal release for this program will be in 2012,
General Fullhart said.
While a long-term replacement remains critical, General Fullhart
points out that 13 Pave Hawks have been lost to combat, training
and civil rescue missions, and 54 of the remaining 99 HH-60G
aircraft are currently undergoing repairs to correct major
structural cracks. In response, service officials have implemented
a short-term solution, the operational loss replacement program, to
maintain current CSAR capability. Operational loss replacement,
General Fullhart said, replaces lost aircraft and addresses the
immediate need to maintain the operational availability of legacy
HH-60Gs. Originally, losses were not replaced due to the
anticipation of CSAR-X, a program that was since canceled, he said.
This long- and short-term approach is the best way to deliver the
required capabilities to the warfighter, General Fullhart
The CVLSP and HH-60 recapitalization will help ensure that the
service sustains the warfighter's capabilities across the full
spectrum of military operations, according to senior leaders. "As
in the KC-X competition, the ability of offerors to meet
requirements at best value to the taxpayer will be invaluable,"
General Fullhart said.
ANN Salutes Master Sgt. Amaani Lyle Secretary of the Air
Force Public Affairs.