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No Let-Up in Behind-the-Scenes CSAR-X Battles

By James T. McKenna | May 3, 2007

The U.S. Air Force may have given ground in the fight over its February choice of Boeing’s CH-47 as the next-generation combat search-and-rescue helicopter. But the competitors aren’t laying off in their behind-the-scenes battles for political and bureaucratic advantage in any re-bid of the $10-billion-plus program to replace about 100 aging, cramped, and overloaded Sikorsky Aircraft HH-60Gs. For instance, officials of Lockheed Martin (which with AgustaWestland and Bell Helicopter are offering a version of the EH101) this week mentioned in passing that an Air Force 2002 analysis of alternatives (AOA) had actually ruled out a CH-47 variant. (Sikorsky is offering a version of its S-92.) Then yesterday the Reuters news service reported that it had obtained that AOA and a 2004 "draft outline of military needs,” both of which said the Chinook had been "considered, but discarded from complete analysis." Those documents, of course, each date to when the contemplated mission of the new aircraft was to fly both CSAR and "personnel recovery" missions. The latter entails transporting crews among USAF intercontinental ballistic missile fields and the evacuation of Congress, the Supreme Court, and some federal agencies from Washington in a national emergency. The Air Force later split that off into a separate competition, which is pending.   For related news
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