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Combat Search and Rescue CSAR Replacement Aircraft CSAR-X

The V-22 program submitted a response to a Request for Information from the U.S. Air Force on 03 February 2000. This RFI was to support an Analysis of Alternatives for the Combat Search and Rescue replacement aircraft program. The TPIPT has solicited CSAR concept submittals from industry over the past several years to identify and rank likely material solutions to the CSAR mission areaTs top-ranked deficiencies. These include reaction time, range, survivability, payload, battlespace awareness and operational availability. The CV-22 addresses all the current mission area deficiencies and has consistently ranked highest of the Non-Developmental full system concept submittals. The Osprey was considered a contender due to its speed, range, payload and combat survivability.

By the turn of the century the Air Force used 105 Sikorsky HH-60G helicopters in active reserve and Air National Guard units to provide CSAR capability for all U.S. forces. The HH-60s will begin to reach their service lifein 2003. Therefore, the Air Force wanted the initial operating capability for a replacement system in 2007. This AoA was conducted during 2000 to determine the most cost and operationally effective alternative to replace the existing CSAR fleet. A case in point is the impact of the CV-22 alternative on CSAR force structure. The RFI was focused on replacing just the current helicopter assets, with the more expensive C-130 refueller portion of the Rescue Force modernization requirement out of the equation. The CV-22 would replace helicopters at substantially less than a one-for-one ratio and it would reduce the need for C-130 refuellers, roughly by half. There is also the extra-mission capability that the Osprey brings such as logistics, force protection, base reconstitution, medical evacuation, aerial refueling, and weapons of mass destruction consequence management. This impact is significant for the USAF in terms of the potential contribution of CV-22 to the developing Air Expeditionary Force Doctrine. It is a real challenge to model, analyze and assess all this so that the AoA product really serves the USAF's decision-making process in CSAR and beyond.

Other contenders being considered in this competitive procurement process were new HH-60s, the S-90, H-53, NH-90 and the EH-101. The AoA was completed in June 2001. The ACC study found a medium-lift helicopter the most cost-effective solution to meet future requirements, winning over upgraded HH-60s, tilt rotors and other options.

Without funding, the Air Force made no commitment to purchase the aircraft, though potential vendors have moved forward to compete for the work. The two aircraft considered the primary competitors for the future CSAR mission are the Lockheed Martin / AgustaWestland US101 and the Sikorsky S-92. These two aircraft were found to be "representative" of the needs identified in the Analysis of Alternatives [AOA]. The AoA noted that the most important performance factors in a new CSAR platform were response time, capacity and survivability.

The Air Force decided in 2001 to procure 132 medium-lift helicopters to replace the aging fleet of 105 HH-60s used for combat search-and-rescue missions, with the new aircraft delivered by 2010. Initially, the Air Force had planned to select a replacement helicopter in 2004, but in mid-2002 this was delayed by two years. On 01 Octover 2003 the CSAR mission passed from Air Combat Command to Air Force Special Operations Command. The Air Force began the process of acquiring a new CSAR aircraft in FY05 with an award to be made in FY06. The new program is expected to involve $1.5 billion in development costs and $9.5 to 10 billion in production costs.

The Personnel Recovery Vehicle (PRV, formerly CSAR) system program office made this requirement an acquisition program. The office was in place at the end of fiscal 2004. Initial funding for research and development of the PRV is slated to start in fiscal 2005.

In December 2004 it was announced that the Air Force intended to issue four contracts in support of risk/schedule reduction efforts in support of the planned competition for the Personnel Recovery Vehicle (PRV). These contracts would be issued to the contractors who have currently expressed interest in proposing for the PRV program. The goal of the contracts was to enable the acceleration of the performance of the PRV program after award. The four contracts were issued to Northrop Grumman, Bell-Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsy at an estimated value of $1.25M each.

The Air Force conducted source selection, in other words, competition, in 2006 in order to have the contract awarded by the end of 2006. Eventually, in the fiscal 2012 timeframe, the Air Force will get the first production deliveries, with an initial operational capability in fiscal 2014. After the initial award in November 2006, Boeing rivals Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky subsequently filed and won two rounds of protests with the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Statement Of Objectives (SOO) for the Combat Search and Rescue Replacement Vehicle (CSAR-X) Program of 13 October 2007 stated that the CSAR-X program will procure a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) medium-lift aircraft that has the capability to perform the Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) Mission assigned to the Air Combat Command (ACC). This acquisition will include two separate blocks or configurations of aircraft. Block 0 development is anticipated to start in FY08 with long lead production starting approximately two years later subject to offeror Milestone C readiness. Block 0 development also includes stand-up of a formal training capability and a desire to have the first operational unit by the end of FY12 to establish Initial Operational Capability (IOC). Block 10 development is anticipated to begin approximately three years after the start of Block 0 development and will lead to the retrofit of the Block 0 aircraft to the Block 10 configuration. The program may include procurement of 3 Block 0 and 2 Block 10 production-representative test aircraft, 141 production aircraft, attendant ground-based training components, and weapon system support capability.

On 07 January 2008 the US Air Force accepted the latest round of bids for the service's controversial the CSAR-X program. Air Force officials hoped to come to a decision sometime in the spring or summer of 2008. Further, the Air Force released another amendment in December 2008 to incorporate more changes and clarifications. By early 2009 program officials did not expect to award a Block 0 development contract before spring 2009. The delay to Block 0 development will likely affect the entire CSAR-X acquisition schedule including the development of Block 10, which is currently scheduled to start in 2010. Although the Air Force would like to have the first unit of CSAR-X helicopters in the field by 2013, program officials acknowledge that initial operational capability could occur as late as 2015, because of the delays in beginning product development.

In April 2009, the Secretary of Defense recommended canceling or curtailing all or part of at least a half dozen major defense acquisition programs-including the Air Force's Combat Search and Rescue helicopter.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:29:18 ZULU