The US Air Force (USAF) is planning to award the long-pending combat rescue helicopter (CRH) contract to Sikorsky by June 2014.
The service will realign approximately $430m from other priorities beyond 2014 through 2020 in a bid to award a competitive contract for a new rescue helicopter to perform the personnel recovery mission.
US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said the decision to award CRH contract protects a good competitive price and effectively uses the $334m Congress had allotted for the programme.
"Over the last ten years, the air force has discussed upgrading the platform that performs this sacred mission for all DOD personnel who go into harm’s way," James said.
The programme is required to go through several reviews before moving forward with the award, including a Milestone B review to officially start the programme, and an independent cost assessment.
In addition to this, Sikorsky should agree to extend its pricing through June, in order to enable this timeline.
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James said the competitive price and the funding provided by Congress will enable USAF to award the CRH contract, but the service may still face significant challenges to keep the effort on track.
"We will need to work with Congress throughout 2015 budget deliberations, and if the FY 16 DOD budget request drops back to sequestration levels, this program, along with many others, will need to be relooked," James added.
A scaled-back version of USAF’s previous CSAR-X programme, the CRH programme seeks production of 112 search-and-rescue aircraft for personnel recovery operations in hostile locations, humanitarian missions, civil search-and-rescue, disaster relief, casualty and medical evacuation and non-combatant evacuation operations.